Fraud

Dr. Couney's Baby Sideshow

Couney ran incubator sideshows, featuring premature babies. This is complicated -Couney was making money from these attractions, and his medical experience was questionable. But at the same time, premature babies weren’t getting a lot of care otherwise.

SYMHC Live: William Mumler's Spirit Photography

In the 1860s, Mumler rose to fame as a photographer of spirits. Whether Mumler was earnest or was just fleecing people is a tricky question, in part because while evidence mounted against him, he always professed his innocence. 

The Daring Imposter Cassie Chadwick

Cassie Chadwick (born Elizabeth Bigley) committed fraud at a level that would be almost impossible to pull off in today’s world of instant communication. Her biggest con was convincing banks that she was the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie.

Unearthed! Piltdown Man

The Piltdown Man is one of the world’s most infamous instances of scientific fraud, and it derailed the study of evolution for decades. How exactly did scientists in 1912 fall so completely for a hoax?

Victor Lustig: Con Man Extraordinaire

He's most famous for selling an iconic structure he didn't own, but Robert Miller, known better by his alias Count Victor Lustig, led a life of spectacular cons, daring escapes, smooth talking and counterfeiting. Read the show notes here.

The Count of Saint-Germain

Accounts of teleportation, alchemy and even immortality swirl around the legend of Count of Saint-Germain. Was he a spy? A concealed royal? A skilled con man? Or just a compulsive liar? Read the show notes here.

The Peralta Grant and the Baron of Arizona

In the 1880s, James Reavis launched one of the most ambitious fraud schemes of all time when he claimed a huge part of the Arizona Territory as his own. He forged and planted evidence to back up his claim and came to be called the Baron of Arizona. Here's a link to the show notes.

Giacomo Casanova

Casanova led a life so full of sex and adventure that today we call any particularly charismatic and successful lover by his name. But he was also. smart and witty, traveled and wrote extensively, and had a hand in all kinds of aristocratic intrigue.

The Real Al Swearengen: Part 2

While Al Swearengen's notoriety comes from his famous saloon, his early experiences all informed his later life. Join Tracy and Holly as they examine the life and times of Al Swearengen in the second part of this series.

Al Swearengen has become a widely-recognized figure in the time of the Black Hills gold rush. While his notoriety comes from his famous saloon, his early experiences as a pioneer child, 100-days man and apprentice barkeep all informed his later life.