Victor Lustig is considered the most notorious con artist history has ever seen. He had a knack for tricking people and making them believe in all sorts of improbable things and has even managed to sell the Eiffel Tower at one point. Check out some of his most daring cons below.
Victor Lustig devised a particularly clever con that saw him sell money-printing boxes to unsuspecting individuals. Called the Rumanian Box, the device was able to duplicate any paper bill that was placed inside it, according to Lustig. The only issue was that it needed to rest for “six hours” between each printing. Lustig would hide some genuine paper money inside the box, most commonly $100 bills, in order to show it was properly working. He would then ask for large amounts of money to sell the device and would be long gone before the victims discovered they were conned.
At one point during his stay in New York City, Lustig founded a fake church. He would copy the speeches given by priests in Breslau, Poland, and deliver such a convincing act that the people rushed to put money in the collection plate that he passed around.
Selling the Eiffel Tower
The con that made Lustig famous was the sale of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In the 1920s, the monument was in bad shape and needed money for maintenance, prompting some officials to advocate for its teardown. Sensing the opportunity, Lustig organized a secret meeting with a number of businessmen and presented himself as a government official. He told the attendees that the city wanted to sell the Eiffel Tower as scrap and invited them to place bids. Lustig found his victim in André Poisson, a local businessman who decided to pay a total of 70,000 francs to bribe Lustig and get the tower. Lustig fled to Austria after that and never saw the consequences of his con as Poisson was too embarrassed to report him to the police.