Frank Abagnale’s life story inspired the film Catch Me If You Can. He was a con man, imposter and did check forgery from the age 15 to 21. He assumed the identities of an airline pilot, a physician and a lawyer, among others. He was eventually arrested and after spending few years in prison started working for the federal government.
Arnold Rothstein, or the Brain, was a racketeer, gambler, and businessman who later became a leader of New York’s Jewish crime circuit. He had reportedly fixed the 1919 World Series. He inspired several fictional characters, including Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby. He was murdered for declining a poker-related payment.
Entrepreneur and former stock broker Daniel Mark Porush, better known as Danny Porush, was convicted of fraud and money laundering at Stratton Oakmont, a brokerage house. Following his 39-month prison sentence, he began working with Med-Care. He inspired the character Donnie Azoff in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Charles Ponzi was an Italian con artist and swindler who operated in Canada and the USA. He is best remembered for his money-making scheme in which he paid his earlier investors using the money given to him by later investors. Although this type of swindling investment scheme existed before Ponzi's time, it came to be known as a Ponzi scheme.
William M. Tweed was an American politician best known for serving as the boss of Tammany Hall, which had a major influence on the political scene of 19th-century New York State. He was later convicted for stealing millions of dollars from New York City taxpayers. His life and career inspired several films, such as Up in Central Park and Liberty.
Vaishnava guru and New Vrindaban co-founder Kirtanananda Swami, better known as Bhaktipada, was born into a Baptist family. In spite of receiving a fellowship to study at Columbia University, he quit academics and joined ISKCON instead. He was later expelled from ISKCON after he was found guilty of child molestation.
Elizabeth Holmes is a former businesswoman who is credited with founding the now-defunct health technology company Theranos . It was later revealed that Elizabeth Holmes had deceived her investors with false claims. The rise and fall of her company inspired a book titled Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
Tommy Robinson is a British anti-Islam, far-right activist. The co-founder of an Islamophobic organization called the English Defence League, Robinson has been convicted on multiple counts of fraud and violence as well as other crimes. From 2017 to 2018, he also contributed as a writer for a Canadian far-right political website called Rebel News.
Paul Manafort is an American former lobbyist, lawyer, political consultant, and convicted bank fraudster. As a political consultant, he served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush. He is also credited with co-founding a lobbying firm called Black, Manafort & Stone.
Currently serving a 28-year sentence for robbing and killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Peru in 2010, Dutch criminal Joran van der Sloot is currently also facing a probable 18-year sentence for smuggling drugs hidden in vegetables. He is allegedly also associated with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
Lou Pearlman was a record producer and creator of successful boy bands like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. In 2006, Pearlman was accused of running a Ponzi scheme. After pleading guilty to money laundering, conspiracy, and making false statements, Lou Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Pearlman was the subject of the 2019 documentary, The Boy Band Con.
A 16th-century French peasant, Martin Guerre disappeared, leaving his family and village, while an imposter claiming to be Guerre came back to his village and stayed with his family for 3 years. The imposter was later tried for fraud, while the real Guerre returned. The tale inspired many novels, musicals, and films.
Businessman, felon and pastor, Barry Minkow opened his first business while in high school. But faced with fund crunch, he soon resorted to felony, ultimately executing a massive investment fraud, resulting in imprisonment. Later he became a pastor and fraud investigator, concurrently continuing with his illegal dealings, resulting in another confinement and a sentence to pay $612 million in restitution.
Born in the UK, Alan Bond moved to Australia with his family at 12. The business tycoon had started out as a signwriter in Perth and later emerged as the CEO of Bond Corporation. The first non-American to earn the sailing trophy America's Cup, he was later imprisoned for corporate fraud.