If there is money to be made, you can bet that some people will stop at nothing to get it! As the saying goes, money makes the world go round – and in our society, many people assume that the more money you have, the more power you can wield. This has led to plenty of power-hungry and particularly greedy risk-takers committing grand fraud and larceny – sometimes ending up worth millions – at the expense of other people.
Fraud really is a fascinating crime – there are plenty of reasons why people fall down this rabbit hole, and there are some pretty intriguing cases of fraud which have shocked the world over the years. In this fact file, we’re going to be looking at ten in particular. Here’s a roundup of the ten biggest fraud cases to make your head spin and your bank balance quiver.
Immigration fraud is a very real phenomenon. The biggest British twist on this case was finally pulled apart in 2019. Four perpetrators were caught running fake companies reportedly trying to offer would-be immigrants a way into the UK – for a fair amount of cash. It’s thought that, were the criminals not caught, British taxpayers may have lost millions.
Another recent UK case was that of a crime gang caught trying to get £15.5 million out of the country and over to Dubai. The method of transport for the illegal smuggling? Suitcases. It’s also thought the gang was also tied to people trafficking. Luckily, they were caught in Autumn 2019.
You may have heard of a Ponzi Scheme – but what about Charles Ponzi, the man who inspired the name? Ponzi was an investor fraud who made millions off illegally trading coupons and ripping off his clients, and who eventually brought at least six banks to their knees. He was already an ex-convict before his schemes took shape.
Kweku Adoboli was an investment executive in the British wing of UBS. Despite being a promising name in private finance, Adoboli in fact chose to engage in more than $2 billion worth of trades which were completely unauthorised – effectively gambling money away from the firm. Adoboli received a jail term of seven years, and UBS’ share value dropped $4.5 billion as a result.
One of the oldest frauds on record happened during the days of the Roman Empire. It was during this time that guards in the Praetorian Army, around 193 AD, chose to kill the current emperor and actually ‘sell’ the empire. Oddly enough, despite a sale price reaching modern rates of $1 billion, the scheme didn’t play out as planned.
Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years for the mother of all Ponzi schemes. Madoff, formerly a big name on Wall Street, managed to swindle around $65 billion from investor clients, resulting in what remains perhaps the biggest accounting fraud in US history.
Barry Minkow went down in history as one of the most ambitious fraudsters, having managed to launch a cleaning company onto the stock market at just 21 years old. However, the vast majority of ZZZZ Best, his alleged firm, was an elaborate Ponzi scheme. He was jailed for 25 years, served seven, and tried to change his life around. However, it’s thought he was back to his old tricks again by 2011.
Victor Lustig was infamous for convincing many that he intended to repair the Eiffel Tower. He faked his way into bribing dealers to get millions of dollars in contracts to ‘repair’ the French landmark, only to escape to America. Unrepentant, Lustig went on to become something of a hero to con artists, supposedly writing the ‘The 10 Commandments of Con Men’.
In a very different fraud case, Ethel McGill was convicted as perhaps one of the biggest UK benefits cheaters of all time. She was claiming welfare from her deceased father from 2004 onwards, claiming he was still alive. She continued to fake disability herself for almost 20 years.
Kazutsugi Nami is thought to have been behind the biggest Japanese investment fraud of all time. He ran a linen company, L&G, and created a digital currency, scamming at least $1.4 billion out of investors through false promises. He received 18 years of jail time.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about fraud cases that we’ve not mentioned? Share them here in the comments section below!