Victor Lustig is always mentioned in the lists of the most outstanding cons of the world. He was arrested about 50 times, but each time he was released for lack of evidence, because he was a perfectionist in deceptive schemes, remembering everything and completely relying on the knowledge of human nature.
Victor Lustig was born in the family of the mayor of Hostinne, a small Czech town. The boy got excellent education, he was fluent in at least five languages, and the best citizens of the city gathered in his parents’ house. father sent his son to study at Sorbonne, but the young man quitted his studies. For several years he traveled all over Europe, making dozens of small crimes under different names. Most often he got introduced as Austrian Count Victor Lustig, whose property was confiscated by Marxists.
Before World War I Lustig was earning by gambling and fake lotteries on transatlantic liners. From the beginning of the war, this source of income dried up. Instead of recreational liners armored boats sailed across the Atlantic, and Lustig had to find a new source of income.
After moving to America, the Count came up with a new scam. He is expected to have earned a few hundred thousand dollars by selling machines to print $ 100 bills. It’s a pity that the precise mechanism could produce no more than one bill in 6 hours, but it would not matter for a disoriented buyer tempted with easy money. What is more, he could buy several of these machines. For authenticity Lustig loaded his machines with two or three genuine banknotes, took 10 to 30 thousand dollars per machine from a buyer and was gone.
When the machine suddenly stopped printing bills and gave out blank paper at the end of the day, the customer pressed brass buttons and clicked levers for long before he realized that he had been deceived.
Lustig is said to be able to profit on the Al Capone, although not just small fry, but crafty mafia feared his name. Lustig came to Al Capone, told a touching traditional story about the lost Austrian estate and asked for a loan of 50 thousand USD, promising to return twice as much in two months. Al Capone was intrigued by the possibility of such lucrative business, and ordered to give the required amount to Lustig. He put it on a bank deposit in Chicago, and at the appointed time took it back, leaving himself accrued interest, and returned the rest to Al Capone, describing vividly that the deal had fallen through. Al Capone was so surprised and pleased at such an original turn of events that gave this honest man an “award” – five thousand dollars.
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