The 1973 movie The Sting is probably the greatest movie ever made about the whole "industry" of confidence trickery. And what an industry it is!
Conmen have been around for as long as money itself. And just in case you think these characters are exaggerated in works of fiction, like The Sting, think again!
Two stories involving conmen were covered in the papers over the last week, both with connections to our little island.
The first concerned a former U.S. Air Force pilot, who pleaded guilty recently for working fraudulently as a commercial airline pilot.
The second involved a very charming young Colombian man, who managed to con his way into the very exclusive Merrion Hotel in Dublin, walking away with €40,000 and some very nice jewellery!
Producer Olan McGowan has been looking into these two stories. And we've also decided to "celebrate", if that's the right word, some of the world’s most legendary confidence tricksters.
We've all heard of "Ponzi schemes". But they were actually named after a guy called Charles Ponzi, and Italian businessman who became known in the early 1920s as a swindler in North America for his money making scheme. Charles Ponzi promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the United States. In reality, Ponzi was paying early investors using the investments of later investors. This type of scheme is now known as a "Ponzi scheme".
Gregor MacGregor made his fortune and reputation in the early 1800s when he convinced hundreds of investors that he was the prince of the fictional country of Poyois!
People will know Frank best as he was betrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Catch Me If You Can.
Born in 1971, Robert was a British barman, car salesman, conman and impostor - who masqueraded as an MI5 agent. For more on this fascinating story, you can read this Guardian article all about Hendy-Freegard: www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/sep/06/ukcrime.
Clifford Michael Irving
Born on November 5th, 1930, Clifford is an American investigative reporter and writer. He is known for a fake "autobiography" of Howard Hughes in the early 1970s.