A Century of Swindles

Ponzi Schemes, Con Men, and Fraudsters


Book Description

The Con Man’s Formula: Hope + Fear = Desperation

From the Gilded Age, through WWII, America was rife with ne’er-do-wells with their never-ending search for the next Big Score. Between 1850, and 1950 lawlessness melded with ingenuity, fueled by optimism and ruthlessness: America was dangerous, and buzzing, and where opportunity came to take flight. At anyone’s expense.

The gall and gumption of these hustles strain credulity. Fake diamond fields? War with Canada? Sir Francis Drake’s unclaimed fortune? All was fair in the quest for something-for-nothing.

The scammers in this volume range from Soapy Smith, the King of the Frontier Con Men, to the eponymous Ponzi; from the undeniably unscrupulous, to the ill and ill-advised. Fans of clever schemes and schadenfreude alike will be entertained by these tales of the rise and fall of some of America’s greatest hucksters.

About Savage, Railey Jane

Railey Jane Savage lives and works in Ithaca, NY, where her abiding love for history's forgotten moments - swindles, or otherwise - grows against the dramatic background of the Finger Lakes. With an English degree from Smith College, she splits her time between writing and editing. Her first book, We Have a Winner! was released by Lyons Press in 2017.