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Primary Sources & Case Studies
Bernard Madoff and His Accomplices: Anatomy of a Con by
This is the first detailed study of how Bernard L. Madoff and his accomplices perpetrated a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions--what has been referred to as the "con of the century." Takes readers backstage to see the intricate details of the "theatre production" of a con game--the playacting, performances, pretending, utilization of props, and false representations that are required to achieve a "standing ovation" (i.e., the total fleecing of the marks)
The Grifters by
Roy Dillon seems too handsome and well-mannered to be a professional con man. Lilly Dillon looks too young--and loves Roy a little too intensely--to be taken for his mother. Moira Langtry is getting too old to keep on living off the kindness of male strangers. And Carol Roberg seems too innocent to be acquainted with suffering.
Queen of the Con by
The definitive account of audacious con woman Cassie Chadwick, the Carnegie Imposter. Born Betsy Bigley in 1857 in Canada, she first operated as Madame Devere, a European clairvoyant, and in 1890 was arrested for defrauding a Toledo bank of $20,000. In the mid-1890s, while working as a madam in Cleveland, Cassie met and married a widowed physician with a coveted Euclid Avenue address. At the dawn of the 20th century, Cassie borrowed $2 million (worth roughly $50 million today) throughout northern Ohio, Pittsburgh, New York, and Boston by convincingly posing as the illegitimate daughter of wealthy industrialist-turned-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. When the fraud collapsed in 1904, it was a nationwide sensation.
Catch Me If You Can by
The uproarious, bestselling true story of the world's most sought-after con man, immortalized by Leonardo DiCaprio in DreamWorks' feature film of the same name, from the author of Scam Me If You Can. Frank W. Abagnale was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history.
Women Swindlers in America, 1860-1920 by
This work offers character studies of several key female swindlers including Ann O'Delia Diss Debar, Mabel Parker, and Sarah Casselman, among others. Frauds covered include spiritually-based crimes (i.e. deceptive seances, ""spirit writing"") and love crimes (i.e. matrimonial racketeering), as well as ""sob story"" panhandling, counterfeiting, faking wealth, and pension fraud.
Nightmare Alley by
Young Stan Carlisle plays the mentalist; then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan's for the taking. At least for now.
General Secondary Sources
Flim Flam: Canada's greatest frauds, scams, and con artists by
Flim Flam explores the world of Canadian white-collar crime, a place inhabited by hustlers, wild gamblers, and crazy dreamers. It takes the reader to the Vancouver Stock Exchange, where dream salesmen have peddled wild stories of easy money, through the "moose pasture" scams of northern Canada, to the con artists who have been drawn to Toronto's financial district.
The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers by
George Washington may never have told a lie, but he may be the only person--our history is littered with liars, deceivers, fraudsters, counterfeiters, and unfaithful lovers. The Encyclopaedia gathers 150 of them, each entry telling the intriguing tale of the liar's motives and the people who fell for the lies. Roelf Bolt documents infamous quacks, fraudulent scientists, crooks who committed "pseudocides" by faking their own deaths, and forgers of artworks, design objects, archaeological finds, and documents. From false royal claims, fake dragon's eggs, and bogus perpetual motion machines to rare books, mermaid skeletons, and Stradivari violins, Bolt reveals that almost everything has been forged or faked by someone at some point in history.
The Big Con by
The classic 1940 study of con men and con games that Luc Sante in Salon called “a bonanza of wild but credible stories, told concisely with deadpan humor, as sly and rich in atmosphere as anything this side of Mark Twain.” . . . “Of all the grifters, the confidence man is the aristocrat,” wrote David Maurer, a proposition he definitely proved in The Big Con, one of the most colorful, well-researched, and entertaining works of criminology ever written.
The Confidence Game by
From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds, Konnikova pulls together a selection of fascinating stories to demonstrate what all cons share in common, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and psychological perspectives. The Confidence Game asks not only why we believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.
Groundless: Rumors, Legends, and Hoaxes on the Early American Frontier by
The fascinating--and troubling--story of powerful rumors that circulated and influential legends that arose in early America. Why did Elizabethan adventurers believe that the interior of America hid vast caches of gold? Who started the rumor that British officers purchased revolutionary white women's scalps, packed them by the bale, and shipped them to their superiors? And why are people today still convinced that white settlers--hardly immune as a group to the disease--routinely distributed smallpox-tainted blankets to the natives? Rumor--spread by colonists and Native Americans alike--ran rampant in early America. In Groundless, historian Gregory Evans Dowd explores why half-truths, deliberate lies, and outrageous legends emerged in the first place, how they grew, and why they were given such credence throughout the New World. Arguing that rumors are part of the objective reality left to us by the past--a kind of fragmentary archival record--he examines how uncertain news became powerful enough to cascade through the centuries. Drawing on specific case studies and tracing recurring rumors over many generations, Dowd explains the seductive power of unreliable stories in the eastern North American frontiers from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. The rumors studied here--some alluring, some frightening--commanded attention and demanded action. They were all, by definition, groundless, but they were not all false, and they influenced the classic issues of historical inquiry: the formation of alliances, the making of revolutions, the expropriation of labor and resources, and the origins of war.
Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by
Dr. Robert D. Hare vividly describes a world of con artists, hustlers, rapists, and other predators who charm, lie, and manipulate their way through life. Are psychopaths mad, or simply bad? How can they be recognized? And how can we protect ourselves? This book provides solid information and surprising insights for anyone seeking to understand this devastating condition.
Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels, and Crooks by
Twelve enthralling stories of skulduggery and intrigue. Rogues brings together a dozen of Keefe's most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. (ON ORDER FOR LAMONT LIBRARY)
One man's fervent pursuit of wealth and power leads him to religion for profit in the evangelist tents of the 1920's Midwestern Corn Belt.
A Face in the Crowd
An Arkansas hobo becomes an overnight media sensation. But as he becomes drunk with fame and power, will he ever be exposed as the fraud he has become?
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
An adaptation, starring Melissa McCarthy, of Lee Israel's memoir about her career as a celebrity biographer and literary forger.
Il Bidone (The Swindle)
An aging swindler, ringleader of a trio of petty thieves who impersonate priests to cheat peasants, finally realizes the futility of his life. Directed by Federico Fellini.