By Nate Hendley
I am very pleased to announce the upcoming publication of my latest book, The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts and Swindles in American History.
As published by ABC-CLIO, The Big Con covers everything from financial fraud to online scams, dubious medical remedies and famous con artists. Profiled are the likes of Bernie Madoff, Charles Ponzi (from whose name we get the expression “Ponzi Scheme”), “The Yellow Kid” and other miscreants. I explore everything from “The Nigerian Prince Letter” (infamous email scam based on a Victorian-era letter-based fraud called “The Spanish Prisoner”), “para-abnormal” fraud (learn how the Fox Sisters became superstars on the supernatural scene by secretly cracking their knuckles), to funeral fraud, malware, psychic surgery and “short” and “big” cons alike.
Also included are lengthy interviews with experts in the art of detecting “flimflam”–a term for fraudulent activity popularized by magician turned psychic debunker James Randi (who is included among the interviewees). Other interview subjects include Dean Jobb (author of a book on Leo Koretz, one of most brazen but little known con artists of the 20th Century) and Alan Abel, who has made a career out of pulling huge media hoaxes (such as setting up a school for professional beggars and an organization devoted to clothing naked animals).
ABC-CLIO is marketing The Big Con as a textbook, but it also makes for fun individual reading, for research or enlightenment.
The book took me nearly two years of research to put together, primarily spent on weekends and evenings as my daytime hours are normally devoted to magazine journalism.
(Nate Hendley is a Toronto writer and author of several books, primarily in the true-crime genre. His website at www.natehendley.com offers more details about his professional and personal background).