The Golden Age Of Con Artists

BOSTON, MA (WBZ-AM) -- America is famous for being the land of opportunity, and that has always included opportunities for con artists to do their thing.

In the early decades of last century, we had the likes of Charles Ponzi, father of the Ponzi scheme, and George Parker, who not only sold the Brooklyn Bridge multiple times to clueless buyers, but also posed as General Ulysses S. Grant’s grandson and sold them grandpa’s tomb.

More recently, we saw the rise and fall of Bernie Madoff, author of history’s biggest Ponzi scheme, and, on a more modest scale, the geniuses behind Trump University.

But keep your eyes open and your checkbook closed, we may be living through the golden age of con artistry

.A few years ago CNN published a list of 16 companies that were valued in the billions by the market but didn’t show a profit. Pandora, Sony, Instagram, Snapchat, some of the biggest names in the business once fit this category.

Someone’s making money off these “businesses,” but their shareholders may not be.

Still, it’s going to be hard to top Elon Musk of Tesla, who has persuaded 400,000 people to give him a thousand bucks just for the privilege of waiting to buy the new Tesla sedan that just got roundly panned by Consumer Reports, citing “issues with braking, controls and ride quality.”

That’s all, just those little items.

Fresh off this triumph, Musk is pushing hard for approval of his latest gimmick, a fix for LA’s traffic problems by transporting cars and their drivers through tech-heavy tunnels drilled beneath the city. 

Los Angeles.  What could possibly go wrong?

But not only do people not call Musk out and send him packing, they kiss his ring and call him a genius innovator.

I hope they’re right.  In the meantime, I wonder if any of them would be interested in buying the Red Line?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio. 

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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