By Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA
Like Victor Frankenstein, who gave life to the Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the ten criminals profiled in this book produced heinous creations that came back to haunt them. These Frankensteins of Fraud represent the worst monsters of twentieth century capitalism. Their fiendish financial schemes wreaked havoc on society and destroyed individuals’ lives.
In Frankensteins of Fraud, Joseph T. Wells tells the stories of this century’s greatest fraudsters with lively, engaging prose. Readers will not only discover the facts behind these schemes, they will encounter the criminal mind at work, matching wits with “Crazy Eddie” Antar, Charles Ponzi, and Michael Milken. Read more about:
Charles Ponzi, Father of the Ponzi Scheme
Few people enjoy the distinction of having a crime named for them. But Charles Ponzi, who arrived from Italy with $2.50 in his pocket, pursued the title with a diabolical fervor. In the summer of 1920, he conned thousands of working people out of 20 million dollars. Booted from America, Ponzi next offered his services to the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
As the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie, Cassie Chadwick stood to inherit $400 million. Bankers in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New York City flung their doors wide open for Cassie, offering to loan her big money at outrageous rates of interest. The poor souls were unaware they were trying to bilk "the most notorious woman of her time."
Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish Match King
Ivar Kreuger made billions from manufacturing penny matches until he was burned in the stock market crash of 1929. The Match King’s colossal swindle found victims—and collaborators—throughout the world.
Philip Musica, aka F. Donald Coster, M.D., Ph.D.
Behind the mask of Dr. F. Donald Coster, the much admired CEO of McKesson and Robbins Pharmaceuticals, lurked Philip Musica, bootlegger, government snitch, and swindler. While the kindly Dr. Coster was courted for the US presidency, he was living a secret life and bleeding McKesson and Robbins for million of dollars.
When Bob Vesco was charged with SEC violations for his handling of a mutual fund, he decided to become a fugitive. Among his cohorts in a 30-year crime spree Vesco counted former President Richard Nixon and the drug lord Carlos Lehder-Rivas. But Bob hadn’t counted on the man he called “The Beard,” Fidel Castro.
Viktor Frankenstein made the dead live. Just so, Stanley Goldblum gave life to 64,000 phony policyholders in his Equity Funding insurance scam. Riding the euphoria of the late 1960s stock market, Goldblum kept his $2 billion rip-off alive for nearly a decade. Then along came Ray Dirks, self-styled “hippie analyst” and a man with a mission.
John Bennett: Ponzi Revisited
Jack Bennett gained renown as a religious man committed to helping the needy. With his New Era philanthropy project, Jack convinced some of the nation’s leading charities that he could double their money in six months. In reality, New Era was a $354-million Ponzi scheme.
"Crazy Eddie" Antar
Crazy Eddie’s low-low prices on TVs and stereos were "insane." But there was nothing crazy about Eddie Antar. While the family fought like cats and dogs, Eddie and his cousin Sammy were running a $100-million stock fraud.
The 32-year-old golden boy at Archer Daniels Midland agreed to videotape his colleagues, who were conspiring with the Japanese. When the feds closed in, ADM paid a record $100-million-dollar antitrust fine, but Mark Whitacre had a big, big secret to tell.
At the yearly Predator’s Ball in the late 1980s, junk bond king Michael Milken and his minions celebrated their cult of greed. Friends endearingly called him “an eccentric monster brain.” The financials market and American Business would never be the same again.
Hardcover, 386 pages
Obsidian Publishing Company