19 of History’s Greatest Con Artists Who’ll Fascinate You


1Nomatter Tagarira

Nomatter Tagarira

A con woman named Nomatter Tagarira convinced Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and his cabinet that she could tap a rock and produce diesel fuel. She then sent his cabinet members on a wild goose chase which lasted 13 days.

2Eleanor Fletcher Bishop

Eleanor Fletcher Bishop

A 19th century con woman named Eleanor Fletcher Bishop convinced everyone she was a Russian Princess and willed Houdini her fortune.



An Indian con man named Natwarlal repeatedly "sold" the Taj Mahal and Parliament House of India along with its 545 sitting members. He was sentenced to 113 years in prison, but he made daring escapes from different jails eight times in his life.

4Lou Pearlman

Lou Pearlman

Lou Pearlman, the con-man behind one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history, defrauding investors out of more than 300 million dollars, was also the mastermind and impresario for N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys. He is also Art Garfunkel’s cousin.

5Victor Lustig

Victor Lustig

In 1935, a con man named Victor Lustig was arrested for selling his victims a "currency copier", purportedly capable of reproducing $100 bills. The day before his trial, he fashioned sheets into a rope and slipped out the window, pretending to be a window washer as he shimmied down the building. Victor Lustig swindled everyone from respectable bankers to Al Capone himself. He even succeeded in selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap, not once but twice. He used 24 aliases, spoke 5 languages and had been arrested 46 times but never convicted.

6Albert Johnson Walker

Albert Johnson Walker

Albert Johnson Walker is a Canadian con-artist who is serving a prison term for embezzlement and murder. Walker convinced a co-worker to swap identities before murdering him with an anchor and tossing him from a boat. Police identified the victim by his Rolex, which also recorded the time of death.

7Wilhelm Voigt

Wilhelm Voigt

A con artist named Wilhelm Voigt once dressed up as a Prussian army captain and ordered several soldiers to follow him. Together they arrested the mayor and plundered the entire city treasury. He wasn't arrested until more than a week later, and the Kaiser later pardoned him.

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8General Gregor MacGregor

General Gregor MacGregor

General Gregor MacGregor was a Scottish conman who ran the “Poyais Scheme,” in which he convinced the entirety of the UK that he was the head of the (non-existent) paradise-like Kingdom of Poyais, going so far as to write a constitution for Poyais and establish several Poyais embassies in the UK.

9Frank Abagnale

Frank Abagnale

A reformed con man named Frank Abagnale successfully impersonated a doctor, airline pilot, lawyer, and teaching assistant during his career as a con artist.

10Bertha Heyman

Bertha Heyman

In the 19th century, a con artist named Bertha Heyman conned money out of men by pretending to be a wealthy woman who was unable to access her fortune.


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