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Just this morning, I thought I had been hit with one of the biggest scams ever, but I defeated it hopefully.
It seems someone somehow was able to use my debit card and order a computer through Walmart.com. I regularly check my bank account and I know I didn’t make such a purchase. Besides, I would not have shipped it to Fremont, Nebraska since I am in Puerto Rico.
I called Walmart and my bank. Now I have to wait several days to get a new card. I hope that whoever dares enter Walmart to attempt to get that computer like jail food.
As I considered the matter, the attempt was nowhere near being one of the biggest scams in history. I have decided to create what I believe to be the 18 biggest scams, scammers and cons. See if you agree. I am starting with #18 and working to #1.
Biggest Scams and Scammers
18: Milli Vanilli
Do you remember these 2 that hailed from Germany? They supposedly sang R&B dance music, but when they did a concert and the record started skipping, people realized it was a scam. They were just up on the stage lip-synching. So people were paying to watch these 2 move their lips and dance. This was the greatest musical scam of all.
17: Premiums For Pink
This is still one of the biggest scams used by manufacturers. Make something in pink and you can charge much higher prices. Just look at the price differences in razors. If they are the blue ones, you can get a package for $1.50, but the same amount of pink ones will cost you $4.00. Same razor…different color.
16: The iPhone App Scam
I don’t know if we can call this a scam, because the app developer admitted quite plainly that it does nothing. All it shows is a red light. It says it may help you stay rich, and you would have to be rich to buy this app for $999. It was called the “I Am Rich” app. Did you fall for it?
Go to the movies and pay $7 for a ticket and $10 for popcorn and a soda. At home, I could get a lot of popcorn for $8. It is a scam that still works and people pay. After all, how can we watch a movie without popcorn?
14: Salted Gold Mine
Back during the gold rush, there were scammers that had worthless mines, but they made a mint with a simple shotgun blast. They would take some gold dust and fill a shotgun shell with it. Firing it into the rock, a sucker would believe they had just bought a great gold mine. The scammer cashed in big time.
13: Qwest Communications
Qwest was a major player in long distance calling. They were fined for switching people’s service without permission, and the biggest part of their scamming came when many of the executives were involved in insider trading. Several people went to prison. Qwest was acquired by Century Link.
This was another communications giant and still are…only under a different name, MCI.
The scam accounted for the accounting department inflating assets. Investors lost over $180,000,000,000 and 30,000 people lost their jobs. The CEO received a 25 year prison sentence.
In a similar move as WorldCom, this Healthcare company also inflated revenues and assets. This cost investors a lot of money when it was discovered and stocks plummeted. The difference was, the CEO was never convicted and maintains his innocence.
10: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
These 2 mortgage giants misstated earnings. Fines were given and people fired, and how many people lost their homes because of it?
This was a case of another business inflating revenues. When it was discovered, their stock dropped from $41 to $12. Investors lost a lot of money. The 2 men involved were sentenced to prison. Cendant pulled out of the mess and are a major player in the business world.
8: Lori Stilley
In an unbelievable scam, this woman actually faked having cancer. Receiving huge donations, she lived a lavish lifestyle until she was discovered. She claimed she was miraculously healed, but the judge said different when she was sentenced to prison.
7: Gregor MacGregor
This Scottish soldier traveled to Central America. He claimed he was accepted by the natives and became the Cacique (Chief). He sold many rights to land, but when people traveled they discovered no such place. He duped many people in one of the biggest scams of the 19th century.
6: Frank Abagnale Junior
He went to work as a security consultant and helped the FBI, but early in life, Frank assumed identities and opened bank accounts writing overdraft checks on them. He made a lot of money in crime, but he made even more as a consultant.
This huge energy company made nationwide news when it was discovered that the CEO was keeping debts off the books. This kept stocks high, but all things come to an end. The CEO received 24 years in prison. Investors lost upwards of $74,000,000,000 and many lost their jobs.
4: George Parker
He died in Sing Sing prison, but his cons are known worldwide.
George sold the Brooklyn Bridge several times. He was a master of selling things that were not his.
People who bought the bridge actually attempted to set up toll booths.
3: Victor Lustig
Victor was the King of deception. He actually sold a money printing machine. It was ingenious! He put some bills in it so it seemed that it worked, and people would spend a lot for it. After the bills were gone, so was Victor.
But, Victor was best known for selling the Eiffel Tower twice.
2: Bernard Madoff
Bernie owned an investments firm and he used a scheme to trick investors out of billions of dollars. The scheme he used came from the #1 person on this list.
By the way, Bernie never should have told his sons about his scheme. They turned him in. He received 150 years in prison and $170,000,000,000 restitution.
1: Charles Ponzi
The scheme works like this: investors are paid returns not from profits, but from new investors. Everyone believes profits are rolling in, but they are only rolling into the scammer’s pockets.
Ponzi was an expert at using this scheme and he had it named after him because of that.
Just be sure you are investing in upright systems. If they are guaranteeing high returns in a short period, it just may be a Ponzi scheme.
These are what I believe to be the 18 biggest scams, scammers and cons.
What are your thoughts?