One of the greatest con artists in history is Victor Lustig. The well-known con artist even went so far as to persuade someone to purchase the Eiffel Tower for scrap twice. During his first few decades of life, Lustig, who was born in Austria-Hungary in 1890, conned individuals out of small amounts of money. He reached Paris with his sights fixed on the Eiffel Tower in 1925, which elevated his art of deception to a whole new level. Lustig even made fictitious stationery with an official government insignia while posing as a French government official. The Eiffel Tower will instead be sold for scrap to the highest bidder after he invited a number of scrap metal dealers to the Hôtel de Crillon and declared that repairs would be too costly.
André Poisson was persuaded by Lustig’s tale to pay 70,000 francs—roughly $250,000 in today’s currency—for the junk. After taking the money, the con man ran away to Austria, and Poisson was so ashamed that he never reported the incident to the authorities. Lustig decided to try the scam again after noticing that his plan was never publicized in the Parisian newspapers he was closely monitoring in the coming weeks. As he persuaded a second customer to complete the transaction, suspicions mounted and the police were eventually called. However, Lustig had already escaped to America, where he carried on deceiving others, by the time law enforcement made an attempt to apprehend him. In 1935, he was apprehended by federal officials in the United States and given a 20-year sentence to serve in Alcatraz jail.