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by Eamon Lahiri
A true con artist knows what it takes to be successful, which basically amounts to lying like a cheap rug and then bailing before anyone notices. You can stretch the ruse out, maximizing your illegally-obtained profits, but you also further your chances of getting caught. And while we're not advocating committing fraud (duh), we will say that if we were a part of these schemes, at some point we would have opined, "Dude, that's too much."
15-Year-Old British Kid Takes Over US Intelligence For 8 Months
Kane Gamble was just an average teenager, living with his mother in a two-bedroom house in the UK. To be fair, he had quite a few things going for him, like a totally badass last name and a solo eyebrow lift that could put The Rock to shame. Probably.
But instead of making people smell what he was cooking, he opted to take over a significant portion of US Intelligence agencies and the personal lives of top American security officials. Basically, he made them smell what they were cooking.
Using nothing more than the types of devices you'd expect to find in an average 15 year olds bedroom, he used basic social engineering to convince unsuspecting employees to give him access to US intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran, which also allowed him into the personal accounts of folks like the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence.
"This is BULLCRAP! You're not my REAL dad, US Intelligence!"
After gaining access to those, he didn't terrify them in the "leaving unsolicited dong pics in their 'My Photos' folder" sort of way -- it was more along the lines of accessing their private information and releasing it online, inundating them with phone calls and texts, and pretty much just taking control of roughly all of their devices while downloading an enormous amount of porn to them.
If you can imagine a version of Saw where Jigsaw used charisma and voice-modulation instead of weird masks and tricycles to achieve his goal of psychological torment, this was pretty much like that.
Guy Pretends To Be Saudi Prince, Swindles Everyone
Pretty much every parent tells their children they can be whatever they want when they grow up, and Anthony Gignac's mom presumably did that but with an exponent after the "anything" part. Most kids' imaginations run wild with that concept when they're young, with visions of important positions and professions and dreams of changing the world. Which is a healthy, inspiring thing for our up-and-coming youth.
Gignac was no different. Well, he sort of was -- he wanted to be a prince, which you may recognize as an unachievable goal unless your parents are royalty. But lottery of birth be damned, he eventually set out on his dream to be one through sheer determination, rather than, you know, finding a princess to marry or a queen to be adopted by or whatever. Instead, he just went around and told everyone he was a Saudi prince.
If the lone act of pretending to be someone you're not was a crime, the worst punishment most guys would receive is not being allowed on Tinder. Gignac's problem, however, was that he was using his scam to get money -- lots of it. So there's an entirely different level of legal issues there.
He also stole that haircut from my aunt.
He was inexplicably successful at it, though, dressing in fancy suits and driving around in his Ferrari adorned with diplomatic license plates he procured on eBay. He even talked up clients on potential business ventures that his "royal father" had sent him to establish.
He booked entire floors at various hotels, secured flights on private jets, and even convinced banks to issue credit cards without any sort of documentation, with the threat of his fictitious father's wrath as his sole playing card. And it worked ... right up until it didn't.
The law eventually caught up with Gignac's farce, but not before he managed to dupe 26 victims out of $8 million. Look, we're of the opinion that being a douchebag who scams people out of money is totally a dick move. But we're also impressed by the sheer ballsiness of the whole thing.
Manhattan Attorney Impersonates Officials In Their Own Offices
Attorneys don't exactly have the most outstanding reputation, so it probably won't come as much of a shock that Marc Dreier from Manhattan was busted for fraud. What sets him apart, however, was the magnitude of his swindling, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars by way of defrauding 40 different investment funds controlled by some of America's most prized asset managers over the course of many years.
His modus operandi included everything from forging letterheads and creating false IOUs, to faking audits and financial statements from former clients. He even walked into random buildings, confidently claiming to have business there, only to impersonate the business's own officials while using their conference rooms. He even talked some of his former clients into joining him to masquerade as satisfied customers.
Were pretty sure he threatened them with his gigantic, fluffy eyebrows.
The remarkable thing about Dreier's story is that he only got away with what he did for so long because of his ridiculous confidence. Apparently, nobody questions the guy who just strolls into a room and starts demanding the world. Which is probably why at the end of the scheme he had some 250 lawyers on his team and a few pretty high-profile clients.
Murderer Pretends To Be Mute For 12 Years, Then Actually Loses Use Of His Vocal Cords
As much as we'd like to forget about them, we all have embarrassing stories in our past. Some of which may even make us consider adopting a completely new life in a place where nobody knows us, with sandy beaches and drinks and lounge chairs and oh god, is this a Corona commercial? Sweet.
In 2005, a Chinese man named Zeng got into a heated argument with an in-law over a rent dispute, and the worst possible thing happened: Zeng ended up killing him. That ... is objectively worse than the time you drunkenly tried to seduce a Supernatural poster, and your jerk friend captured it on video. Even if you did want to leave the country after seeing it.
As it turns out, murder is way more difficult to work through than tuning out the social media comments on your publicly-posted drunk shenanigans, which is why Zeng dropped everything and hauled ass 450 miles north to start a new life with a new identity.
But he knew all lies have a shelf-life, and he was desperately trying to avoid a lifetime of having to come up with dodgy excuses every time someone asked him about his past. So instead of running the risk of saying literally anything that might implicate him, he committed to pretending to be a mute. For 12 years.
He also pretended to be a graceful swan ... until one day, he finally became one.
There couldn't possibly be any discrepancies in his story if he didn't offer up any words at all. And that plan worked for well over a decade. Justice did finally catch up with him, however, and when it did, they found that he pulled it off so well that his vocal cords had literally atrophied to the point that he couldn't actually speak anymore.
So in a way, he sort of succeeded, we guess?
Like this article? Check out "5 People Who Took Con Artistry To Crazy New Heights" and "4 Ridiculous Scams We Feel Guilty For Laughing At".