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Confidence In The Con

Confidence In The Con

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Those loveable grifters. Source: Universal Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images hide caption

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Source: Universal Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images

The confidence scheme certainly seems like an American obesession — the golden age of grift came courtesy of the Jazz Age — and boy does Hollywood love a huckster. I suppose then, it's no surprise that the latest con to hit the papers is a guy proclaiming himself American Royalty: the peculiar case of Clark Rockefeller, nee Christopher Chichester, nee — I'm not kidding — Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. For the whole story, read the Boston Globe's excellent reporting — it reads like fiction. What's most fascinating to me is how many people believed him — state senators and Upper East Side art dealers — everybody wanted to believe him. These days, the confidence game is less an art, than a science; a race to see how many people will be trapped by a mass mailing signed by a "Nigerian Prince." It makes me nostalgic for the days of Harold Hill — at least back then, a con cared about the trouble in River City.

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