The Most Famous Grifter, Ranked

Choose the grifter you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 25, 2024 07:44
Throughout history, individuals known for their deceptive skills have often left a mark on society, challenging our perceptions of trust and cunning. A ranking of the most famous grifters can provide insights into the complex interplay of ethics and charisma that defines their legacies. Such a list not only sheds light on the personal tactics they used but also illustrates the broader social and historical impact of their actions. By participating in voting for the most renowned grifters, users contribute to a collective assessment of these intriguing figures. This interactive process not only enhances understanding of past deceptions but also engages in an ongoing dialogue about the nature of influence and manipulation. The outcome of these votes continuously updates, reflecting new opinions and discussions sparked among the community.

Who Is the Most Famous Grifter?

  1. 1

    Frank Abagnale

    A notorious impostor and con artist known for his history as a check forger, impostor, and escape artist.
    • Notable impersonations: Pilot, doctor, and lawyer
    • Catch Me If You Can: His life story was adapted into a film and Broadway musical.
  2. 2

    Victor Lustig

    Famous for 'selling' the Eiffel Tower twice and for the creation of the 'money box' scam.
    • Eiffel Tower scam: Convinced buyers he was a government official selling the tower for scrap.
  3. 3

    Charles Ponzi

    Best known for his fraudulent money-making scheme which pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit.
    • Ponzi scheme: His scheme gave birth to the term 'Ponzi scheme'.
  4. 4

    Bernard Madoff

    American former stockbroker, investment advisor, and financier who is convicted of running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
    • Ponzi scheme size: Estimated loss of $64.8 billion.
  5. 5

    George C. Parker

    Famous for 'selling' New York monuments such as the Brooklyn Bridge to unsuspecting immigrants.
    • Famous scam: Selling the Brooklyn Bridge.
  6. 6

    Eduardo de Valfierno

    Claimed to be the mastermind behind the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911, selling forgeries of the painting.
    • Mona Lisa theft: Claimed to have orchestrated the theft to sell forgeries.
  7. 7

    Elizabeth Holmes

    Founder of Theranos, a now-defunct health technology company, who was charged with massive fraud for claiming to have revolutionized blood testing.
    • Company: Theranos
    • Documentary: "The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley" details her rise and fall.
  8. 8

    Anna Sorokin

    Posed as a wealthy New York socialite under the alias Anna Delvey, defrauding banks, hotels, and wealthy acquaintances.
    • Alias: Anna Delvey
    • Netflix series: "Inventing Anna" is based on her story.
  9. 9

    Gregor MacGregor

    Scottish con man who attempted to attract investment and settlers for the non-existent country of Poyais.
    • Fake country: Poyais
  10. 10

    Cassie Chadwick

    Pretended to be the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie, defrauding banks out of millions of dollars.
    • Fake identity: Illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie.

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous grifter. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or grifter is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 124 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each grifter once every 24 hours. The rank of each grifter is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Famous Grifter

Frank Abagnale
Rank #1 for the most famous grifter: Frank Abagnale (Source)
Grifters have been around for centuries. They charm, deceive, and manipulate. They make people believe in false promises. These tricksters often seem trustworthy. They can be anyone. They blend into society with ease.

Grifters use many methods to con people. Some pretend to be someone they are not. They might pose as wealthy individuals, business experts, or even royalty. They create fake identities to gain trust. They tell convincing stories to support their lies. They often target those who are vulnerable. They look for people who are desperate or in need.

One common tactic is the investment scam. The grifter promises high returns. They use complex jargon to confuse their targets. They show fake documents to prove their claims. The victim invests money, hoping for big profits. In the end, the grifter vanishes with the money.

Another tactic is the romance scam. The grifter pretends to fall in love. They build an emotional bond with the victim. They gain trust through affection and sweet words. Once the victim is hooked, the grifter asks for money. They create fake emergencies to get funds. They might say they need money for medical bills or travel expenses. When the victim sends money, the grifter disappears.

Grifters also use the classic con game. This involves tricking someone into a rigged game or bet. The victim believes they have a chance to win. The grifter uses sleight of hand or hidden tricks to ensure they win. The victim loses money, thinking they had a fair chance.

Some grifters work alone. Others operate in groups. They often have a network of accomplices. These accomplices play different roles in the con. They might act as witnesses or partners. This makes the scam more believable.

Grifters often move from place to place. They avoid staying in one area for too long. This helps them evade capture. They change their appearance and identity. They use fake names and documents. This makes it hard for authorities to track them.

Despite their cunning, many grifters eventually get caught. Law enforcement agencies work to expose their schemes. They gather evidence and track their movements. When caught, grifters face legal consequences. They might serve time in prison or pay fines. However, some manage to escape justice. They move on to new targets and start fresh cons.

The allure of the grifter lies in their audacity. They exploit human nature. They prey on greed, trust, and hope. They show how easily people can be deceived. Their stories serve as a warning. They remind us to be cautious, to question too-good-to-be-true offers, and to protect ourselves from deceit.

Grifters leave a trail of broken trust and lost fortunes. Their impact can be devastating. Yet, their tales continue to fascinate. They remind us of the darker side of human nature. They show the lengths some will go to for personal gain.

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