19 Jul 2011
In the third of our features on the “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time” we turn our attention to my personal favourite; “The Eiffel Tower Sale” of 1925
This scam involved “Count” Victor Lustig who created a false identity for himself that authorised him to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap. Lustig then did just that, securing bribes from two companies worth over $200,000 to scrap the famous Parisian landmark. Once he had the money he left France, returning to the USA with the proceeds. Many will see this story as humorous and the good “Count” as a loveable rogue. However many people fall victim to this form of identity theft. No-one is exempt; From the grandmother answering the door to the would be sales person to Sven-Goran Eriksson (former England football team manager) and the North Korean government, both of whom recently fell prey to the same mining scam.
This form of fraud often results in financial loss, credit rating issues and misery as the victim tries to correct the resulting mess. Always thoroughly check the identity of someone you don’t know before entering into any arrangement that makes you vulnerable to fraud.