Crazy Con Artists Who Sold Things They Never Owned

In case you didn’t know, con artist is short for confident artist since it surely takes a lot of guts and lack of remorse to lie and manipulate your way into getting what you want. The people on this list aren’t your regular scammers either; they made headlines for almost getting away with some of the craziest schemes you cannot even imagine. Take a look at this list of insane con artists who sold things they never owned.

1. Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava

This man is considered to be India’s greatest con man. Prior to his illegal activities, Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, also known as Natwarlal, used to be a regular lawyer. Then he started engaging in shady activities like swindling prominent businessmen out of millions of dollars. He also walked out of jail in broad daylight by stealing a police officer’s uniform. Natwarlal also had 50 aliases, which made it even easier for him to commit over 100 schemes before his supposed death in 2009. 

2. Emmanuel Nwude

According to statistics, Nigerian internet frauds are one of the most popular types of scams people face today and Emmanuel Nwude is the biggest one of them all. In the late 90s, Nwude pulled off the third-largest banking scam in the world when he, along with five accomplices, sold a fictional airport to a Brazilian bank director named Nelson Sakaguchi for a total of $242 million. $191 million of that sum was paid in cash and the rest in the form of outstanding interest. In the end, Nwude and his pals were hit with five concurrent sentences of five years and had to pay a fine of $10 million.

3. Nicolae Popescu

Nicolae Popescu was a Romanian fugitive who, for a very long time, was a subject of the Interpol “red notice” (an international arrest warrant) along with several members of his crew. Popescu was guilty of selling nonexistent boats, motorcycles, cars and other expensive items mostly on popular American websites such as and He made a whopping $3 million from this scam alone. Then he created fake passports that allowed his team to open US bank accounts which they used to counterfeit invoices from reputable brands such as PayPal.

4. George C. Parker

George Parker differs from the other con artists on this list as he used his cold reading skills to determine who would fall for his lies. He would pretend to be a busy engineer looking for someone to run a booth that he planned on setting up on the Brooklyn Bridge. If the person seemed interested, the conversation would steer towards his supposed lack of time and offer to sell the bridge instead. Poorer people paid as little as $50, wealthier ones paid up to $50,0000 The buyers only became aware of the ruse when the police intervened after the poor souls tried to set up booths at the bridge.

5. Gregory B. Bartucci

In 2013, a man searching for a second boat on Craigslist found his own boat listed for sale on the website. Curious, the man met with the seller who turned out to be 49-year-old Gregory Bartucci who went by the name Chad. The police were contacted and Bartucci was arrested and held in custody on $100,000 bail. However, this wasn’t Bartucci’s first rodeo with swindling innocent people. In 2015, he was busted for selling two bulldozers at $42,500 under the guise of a fake company he created. 


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