America’s history of fraud began in colonial times. The earliest business scams involved phony health cures and remedies. As soon as the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, colonial hucksters were hawking snake oil and other deceptive medicines. Medical frauds and quack medicine had a Second Coming when they exploded in the age of Internet charlatanism: Do you want to lose weight? Do you want a pill to cure cancer? We’ve got it. Step right up…
Historically, on America’s timeline of scam artistry, quack medicine was followed by real estate and land swindles, as westward expansion saw robber barons fleece shareholders out of property. The stage was set for corruption: the U.S. government swindles big businesses, big businesses scam workers, and workers look to get rich or die trying trading insider secrets or bending the laws to ride the gravy train. It’s like propping up a house of cards.
Scams come in all forms. The smooth talking car salesman wants to sell you a lemon, and the phony travel agent wants to book you a hotel in the Caribbean that doesn’t exist. It’s all the same; they want your money. There are Ponzi schemes and Pyramid schemes, land banking scams and mail-order-bride scams; there are quick-talking boiler room salesmen pitching phony investments and promising the road to riches, and corrupt stockbrokers and financiers using other people’s riches to amass their own false fortunes. Here are the 10 biggest scams in American history.
10 Insider Trading
9 The Balloon Boy Hoax
8 James Frey's A Million Little Pieces
7 The Baker Estate Swindle
6 Identity Theft and Fraud
5 Barry Minkow and ZZZZ Best
4 The Pfizer Scam
3 The Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme
2 Tax Scams
1 Enron Bankruptcy
The largest bankruptcy in American history, corporate America’s moral failing, jail time for a high-riding chief executive officer and 15 other execs - the Enron debacle is the crown jewel of corporate scams. In 2001, the Houston-based Energy giant filed for bankruptcy after allegations of accounting fraud. The scandal, which wiped out over 78 billion in stock market value, was aided by a cabal of crooked bankers and advisors. Pensioners and shareholders lost their life savings. Twenty thousand Enron employees lost their jobs. Jeff Skilling, former president of Enron, is serving a 24-year sentence. The Enron scam led to a $7.185 billion class action settlement, the largest of all time.
Sources: cnn.com, forbes.com, theguardian.com, cbsnews.com
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheRichest?Get Your Free Access Now!