20 Exceptionally Clever Con Artists You Have To Know About


11Frédéric Bourdin

Frédéric Bourdin

A 23-year-old French con artist named Frédéric Bourdin impersonated and assumed the identity of a 16-year-old missing Texas boy, living with the boy's family for months, despite retaining his French accent and having different colored eyes from the missing teen.

12Han van Meegeren

Han van Meegeren

Han van Meegeren, a Dutch painter, Master artist, and con-artist forged paintings in the style of Johannes Vermeer, fooling curators for years. Despite his crimes, he is celebrated now as a World War 2 hero for selling counterfeit artwork to Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring.

13Mary Bateman

Mary Bateman

In 1806, a con artist named Mary Bateman inscribed "Crist is coming" on chicken eggs before shoving them back up into the chicken. She charged a penny to witness the eggs being laid. Later, Bateman was executed for murder and strips of her skin were sold as charms to ward off evil spirits.

14Oskar Daubmann

Oskar Daubmann

Oskar Daubmann was a con man who convinced people that he was the last POW from World War 1. The parents of the real Oskar Daubmann accepted the impostor as their son, despite his different eye color and lack of known facial scar.

15Arthur Furguson

Arthur Furguson

Arthur Furguson was a Scottish con man who “sold” a number of monuments to tourists. In the 1920s, he sold monuments such as Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square (for the sum of £6,000), Big Ben (£1,000 for a down payment), and Buckingham Palace (£2,000 for a down payment) to American tourists. After he immigrated to the US in 1925, he managed to sell the White House to a rancher on the installment plan for yearly payments of $100,000 and tried to sell the Statue of Liberty to a visiting Australian, who went to the police.

16John Romulus Brinkley

John Romulus Brinkley

In the 1920s, a man went to see a con doctor John Romulus Brinkley for impotence and the doctor joked that surgically inserting goat testicles into his own would cure him. The man begged him to do it and the "surgery" soon became wildly popular, netting Brinkley $750 per operation.

17Douglas Berneville-Claye

Douglas Berneville-Claye

Douglas Berneville-Claye was a con-man who in World War 2 managed to serve in both the British SAS and the Nazi SS.

18Alan Conway

Alan Conway

In the 90s, a con man named Alan Conway in London impersonated Stanley Kubrick so much so that he came to believe he was Kubrick.

19Fake painting

Fake painting

In 2015, two Spanish conmen sold a fake painting for €1.5 million, only to find out that all the money they received was also counterfeit.

20David Kim Stanley

David Kim Stanley

In the late 1990s a convicted con artist and fugitive named David Kim Stanley—under the alias "Michael Fenne"—raised more than $28 million for a proposed 1,000-channel internet broadcasting company called Pixelon that never developed software to stream video.