A con man, con artist, bunko artist, or grifter is a person who uses scams and frauds (also known as confidence games) to extort or swindle money out of other individuals. Follow the link to Confidence Game for examples and methods on how this is done.
Con artists sometimes employ shills, a form of accomplice. The target or victim of a con is known as a mark.
Notable con artists of history
- Born in the 18th century
- Born or active in the 19th century
- Helga de la Brache (1817-1885)
- William Thompson (active in 1840–1849) – US criminal whose deceptions caused the term confidence man to be coined
- Lou Blonger (1849–1924) – organized massive ring of con men in Denver in early 1900s
- Soapy Smith (1860–1898) — confidence gang boss, who operated in Denver, Colorado; Creede, Colorado; and Skagway, Alaska
- George C. Parker (1870–1936) — US con man who sold New York monuments to tourists
- Scotty (1872–1954) a prospector, performer, and con man, who was made famous by his many scams involving gold mining and the iconic mansion in Death Valley, popularly known as Scotty's Castle
- Joseph Weil (1875–1976) – one of the most famous American con men of his era
- Horace de Vere Cole (1881–1936)
- Charles Ponzi (1882–1949) – Italian immigrant into the US; "Ponzi scheme" is a "get-rich-quick scheme" fraud named after him
- Victor Lustig (1890–1947) – born in Bohemia (today's Czech Republic) and known as "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower"
- Canada Bill Jones – riverboat gambler and card shark
- James Reavis (1843-1914) - Almost stole Arizona and made a pile of cash in the process.
- Born or active in the 20th century
- Eduardo de Valfierno – Argentine con man who allegedly masterminded the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911
- Ostap Bender - semi-fictional Prichernomorsk resident who sought hidden treasures.
- Bernie Cornfeld (1927–1995) – ran one of the greatest scams in history which was later realized to be a Ponzi scheme
- David Hampton (1964–2003) - Inspiration for the play and film Six Degrees of Separation
- News: Woman posed as FBI agent, 'hired' neighbors - the woman probably didn't it for the money, but still…
The list of con men was taken directly from Wikipedia. To learn more on the subject (and see a list of currently active con men), visit:
For detailed information on many of the most famous con artists in history, visit: http://greatestconartists.webs.com/
Game and Story Use
- The list of historical con men could provide you with noteworthy NPCs for a game set in the 19th century or 20th century.