The World’s Most Famous Scams

Scams are part of the business world.  To keep yourself and your business ‘safe’, you need to be aware of the various types of scams.  One of the best way to get educated in the Scam 101 is by learning from ‘the best’ (read: infamous scammers.)


Here are some of the world’s most famous scams – read on, and learn how to deal with scams better.

Bernard Ebbers’ greed

This former Baptist college physical education teacher founded Long Distance Discount Services Inc. in 1984. (LDDS). The organization eventually grew into the second largest telecommunications holding company in the United States. Ebbers’ closest business partners were the pizza delivery guy and the DJ. Not having any special knowledge, Ebbers brought the company to profit in just one year. One day he overheard two experts talking about the future of fibre optic cables and began buying up the companies that produce this most fibre optic. This is one example of his almost animal instinct.

Ebbers was greedy, too. He kept buying companies that cost much more than his own. He had to forge financial statements by contacting his friend and assistant. He eventually turned him in to the police after six years in prison. But Bernard Ebers was sentenced to 25 years in 2005 for financial crimes.

Yves Bouvier and his consulting in arts

The saga of Salvator Mundi, the last Leonardo work is in private hands and made its début as an “official” da Vinci at the National Gallery in London in 2011, and quickly caught the eye of a number of potential buyers, including Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who was approached in 2013 regarding the opportunity of purchasing the unique masterpiece. He asked his longtime trusted art dealer, Swiss freeport magnate Yves Bouvier, for advice on whether or not to buy the painting.

Bouvier was sanguine about the possibility of buying the painting, telling Rybolovlev “If you like it, I will get it for you”. He did, selling Salvator Mundi to the billionaire for $127.5 million. What Rybolovlev didn’t know, however, is that Bouvier had just bought the painting himself from Sotheby’s—less than 24 hours before—for only $80 million.

Bernard Madoff’s pyramid

In the early sixties, he founded the Madoff Investment Securities investment fund, which soon became one of the most respectable in America. Investors were offered unheard of interest – up to 12-13% per year. There were no cases of non-refundability.

Madoff was well known and very popular in the U.S. before the 2008 crisis. Then he confessed to his sons: in fact, his entire business is a financial pyramid. It existed at the expense of depositors’ money. The sons eventually extradited their father to the police.

Rockefeller’s nephew is Christopher Rokankurt

Christopher Rocankurt was arrested in 2001. This charming crook pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller family, as well as a personal friend of American President Bill Clinton. In fact, Chris was a pupil of the orphanage, a Frenchman by birth. Pretending to be a wealthy man, Christopher openly advertised himself in the media and so lured his newly found wealthy friends and a total of about a million dollars.

When he was caught cheating, he fled to Canada. There, he pretended to be a famous racing driver, who to avoid pesky fans, have to live under someone else’s name, then as a financier, then as a director. One of his friends was the actor Mickey Rourke. Christopher was arrested together with his wife, Maria Pia Reyes, a model of Playboy magazine.


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