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The trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills. Confidence men or women exploit human characteristics such as greed and dishonesty, and have victimized individuals from all walks of life.

Real-life notable con artists

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Born in the 18th century

  • Jean Henri Latude (1725–1805) ? French confidence man and possible lunatic who, famously, extorted money from the Madame de Pompadour and endured thirty-five years of confinement, in the Bastille and at Vincennes, for his efforts
  • Gregor MacGregor (1786–1845) ? Scottish con man who tried to attract investment and settlers for a non-existent country of Poyais

Born in the 19th century
  • Philip Arnold (1829–1878) ?
  • Nicky Arnstein (1879-1965) ?
  • Lou Blonger (1849–1924) ? organized massive ring of con men in Denver in early 1900s
  • Helga de la Brache (1817–1885) - pretended to be the secret daughter of the exiled Gustav IV and Frederica of Baden of Sweden
  • Ed "Big Ed" Burns ?
  • Cassie Chadwick (1857–1907) ? defrauded several U.S. banks out of millions of dollars by claiming to be an illegitimate daughter and heiress of Andrew Carnegie
  • Horace de Vere Cole (1881–1936) - most famously fooled the captain of the Royal Navy warship HMS Dreadnought into taking Cole and a group of his friends, including Virginia Woolf, for an Abyssinian delegation
  • Louis Enricht –
  • Arthur Furguson –
  • Oscar Hartzell –
  • Canada Bill Jones – riverboat gambler and card sharp
  • Henri Lemoine –
  • Victor Lustig (1890–1947) – born in Bohemia (today's Czech Republic) and known as "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower"
  • William McCloundy –
  • George C. Parker (1870–1936) – U.S. con man who sold New York monuments to tourists
  • Charles Ponzi (1882–1949) – "Ponzi scheme" is a "get rich fast" fraud named after him
  • Death Valley Scotty (1872–1954) ? prospector, performer, and con man, famous for gold mining scams and the mansion in Death Valley known as Scotty's Castle.
  • Soapy Smith (1860–1898) ? confidence gang boss, who operated in Denver, Colorado; Creede, Colorado; and Skagway, Alaska
  • William Thompson (active in 1840–1849) – U.S. criminal whose deceptions caused the term confidence man to be coined
  • Joseph Weil (1875–1976) – one of the most famous American con men of his era

Born in the 20th century
  • Bernie Cornfeld (1927–1995) ? ran the Investors Overseas Service, alleged to be a Ponzi scheme
  • Richard Eaton (1937–1979) ? con artist, saloon owner, and general manager of Moo Moo Vedda's dress factory and an associate of the Lucchese crime family.
  • David Hampton (1964–2003) – Inspiration for the play and film Six Degrees of Separation
  • Konrad Kujau (1938–2000) – German forger of the supposed Hitler Diaries
  • Eduardo de Valfierno – Argentine con man who allegedly masterminded the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911

Living people
  • Frank Abagnale (1948–) – U.S. cheque forger and impostor; his autobiography, Catch Me If You Can, was made into a movie
  • Peter Foster (1962–) – Australian conman with convictions and imprisonment on three continents for fraud and money laundering, known for the Bai Lin slimming tea scam and involvement in property transactions with Cherie Blair.
  • Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter (1961–) – Bavarian-born con artist who, for nearly two decades, claimed to be a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family, "Clark Rockefeller".
  • Robert Hendy-Freegard (1971–) – Briton who kidnapped people by impersonating an MI5 agent and conned them out of money.
  • James Arthur Hogue (1959) – U.S. impostor who most famously entered Princeton University by posing as a self-taught orphan
  • Clifford Irving (1930–) – U.S. writer, best known for a false "authorized autobiography" of Howard Hughes.
  • Samuel Israel III (1959–) – Ran the former fraudulent Bayou Hedge Fund Group; faked suicide.
  • Bon Levi (1943–) – Aka Ron the Con and Ronald Frederick. Arguably Australia's most notorious conman who tricked Australian and U.S. citizens into investing in scam franchise businesses. He has been jailed both in Australia and the United States.
  • Bernard Lawrence Madoff (1938) – American former chairman of the NASDAQ stock market who admitted running a world-record $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Headed the hedge fund Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC until his arrest in 2008. In March 2009 he pled guilty to 11 federal crimes.
  • Matt the Knife (1981–) – American-born card cheat and pickpocket who bilked corporations, casinos, and at least one Mafia crime family.
  • Barry Minkow (1967) – American entrepreneur. His company, ZZZZ Best, cost investors an estimated $100 million before he served seven years in prison for fraud and other offenses.
  • Semion Mogilevich (1946–) – is a billionaire organized crime boss and a global con artist believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the "boss of bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.
  • Lou Pearlman (1954–) – U.S. businessman and manager of boy bands, sentenced to 25 years for operating a Ponzi investment scheme
  • Casey Serin (1982–) – Self-confessed mortgage fraudster who became the "poster child" of the housing bubble.
  • Solomon Dwek (c.1973–) Syrian-Jewish real estate investor from Deal, New Jersey who pleaded guilty to a $50,000,000 bank fraud involving PNC Bank.
  • Michael Sabo (1945–) – Best known for his history as a check, stocks and bonds forger. He became notorious in the 1960s and throughout the 1990s as a "Great Impostor", and was featured on national TV, had over 100 aliases, and earned millions.
  • Peter Popoff – German-born American con man who takes in money by promising wealth and other benefits to be sent by God.

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