The best books about cons and scams

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the automobile business (my great-grandfather sold horse carriages before cars were invented!), I’ve always been fascinated by salesmen and con artists, and the very thin line that often separates the two. What is a sales pitch, for example, and what is an outright lie? Where does the truth live anymore? Media? Politics? Business? None of the above? It has never been more important to learn the truth, and never has it been harder to find it. And it’s this very issue that is dividing the world. We think the other side has been conned. They think we’ve been conned. One thing’s for sure—someone’s getting conned. And that’s why I love con books! 


I wrote...

RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street

By Robert Kerbeck,

Book cover of RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street

What is my book about?

Robert Kerbeck didn’t grow up wanting to become the world’s greatest corporate spy. He just wanted out of the family car business. An Ivy League education in his back pocket, he had a more noble profession in mind—to be an actor. But to support himself, he needed a survival job. And before he knew it, while his acting peers were waiting tables, Kerbeck was beginning his apprenticeship as a corporate spy. RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street tells the story of a young man who dreams of stardom but can’t quite shake everything he’s learned growing up in the automobile business. Kerbeck shares the lies he told, the celebrities he screwed, the cons he ran, and the millions he made—and lost—along the way.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake

Robert Kerbeck Why did I love this book?

When I was writing my book, I reached out to Frank Abagnale to thank him for writing Catch Me If You Can. Indeed, I dedicated my book to him. To my great surprise, he asked to read my book and then offered an incredible blurb which the publishers put on the cover. So I must admit that any review I write of Catch Me If You Can will be biased. Plus, what can you say about someone who faked being a doctor, a lawyer, and an airplane pilot? I’ll tell you what. Mr. A is a great writer, storyteller, and a hell of a good guy too!

By Frank W. Abagnale, Stan Redding,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Catch Me If You Can as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams and Ringo Monjo, one of the most daring con men, forgers, impostors, and escape artists in history. Dubbed "The Skywayman", he was known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all 50 states in America, living a sumptuous life on the run. In his brief but notorious career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and co-piloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as a member of hospital management, practised law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged…


Book cover of The Big Short

Robert Kerbeck Why did I love this book?

In my career as a corporate spy, I was able to see and learn many things I wasn’t supposed to. As a result, I saw the makings of what would become the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the 2008 Crash. At first, I thought I was the only one, until I read The Big Short. Michael Lewis documents the few oddballs and kooks prescient enough to read the financial tea leaves and see the crash coming. More than that, he shows how Wall Street didn’t care, until it was too late. 

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Big Short as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The real story of the crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can't pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren't talking.

Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar's Poker. Out of a…


Book cover of The Wolf of Wall Street

Robert Kerbeck Why did I love this book?

Wolf of Wall Street author Jordan Belfort and I shared more than a few things in common. First off, we were both using the telephone for illegal purposes: me to con executives and gatekeepers to reveal corporate secrets; Belfort to defraud mom-and-pop investors to the tune of $200 million or so. And we both spent time in Beverly Hills: me while playing a desk clerk in a couple of episodes of Melrose Place; Belfort while living there after his pump-and-dump outfit Stratton Oakmont was shut down. Belfort’s Midas-gone-rogue story is chock full of sex, drugs, and sinking ships, and The Godfather of con stories. 

By Jordan Belfort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wolf of Wall Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Now a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio
 
By day he made thousands of dollars a minute. By night he spent it as fast as he could. From the binge that sank a 170-foot motor yacht and ran up a $700,000 hotel tab, to the wife and kids waiting at home and the fast-talking, hard-partying young stockbrokers who called him king, here, in Jordan Belfort’s own words, is the story of the ill-fated genius they called the Wolf of Wall Street. In the 1990s, Belfort became one of the most…


Book cover of Billion Dollar Whale

Robert Kerbeck Why did I love this book?

Billion Dollar Whale is the story of Asian financier, Jho Low, and the global financial swindle that involved Interpol, the Malaysian prime minister, Goldman Sachs, and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Leonardo DiCaprio. Low was even one of the primary financiers of—wait for it—The Wolf of Wall Street, the Oscar-nominated crime biopic about Jordan Belfort. Think about that for a moment: A film glorifying financial malfeasance was funded via financial malfeasance. You can’t make this shit up and you must read Billion Dollar Whale

By Tom Wright, Bradley Hope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Billion Dollar Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2009, with the dust yet to settle on the financial crisis, a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude was being set into motion. It began in Malaysia and would spread around the world, touching some of the world's leading financial firms, A-list Hollywood celebrities, supermodels, Las Vegas casinos and nightclubs, and even the art world. Now known as the 1MDB affair, the scandal would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system.

Federal agents who helped unravel Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme say the 1MDB affair will become the textbook case of financial fraud in the…


Book cover of The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Robert Kerbeck Why did I love this book?

Whereas I spent my time extracting secret information from corporations to potentially cause their demise, John Perkins was flying around the world trying to do the same thing to developing nations. A sobering tale of bad policies and bad leaders pushed on unsuspecting populations, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a nail-biting expose of what America is willing to do regardless of the collateral damage to other countries. 

By John Perkins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


***THE WORD OF MOUTH INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER NOW UPDATED WITH 15 EXPLOSIVE NEW CHAPTERS***

False economics. Threats, bribes, extortion. Debt, deception, coups, assassinations and unbridled military power. These are the tools used by the 'corporatocracy' - a vast network of corporations, banks, colluding governments and rich and powerful individuals - to ensure that they retain and expand their wealth and influence, growing richer and richer as the poor become poorer.

In his original, post 9/11 book, John Perkins revealed how he was recruited as an economic hit man in the 1970s, and exposed the corrupt methods American corporations use to spread…


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The Truth About Unringing Phones

By Lara Lillibridge,

Book cover of The Truth About Unringing Phones

Lara Lillibridge

New book alert!

What is my book about?

When Lara was four years old, her father moved from Rochester, New York, to Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of over 4,000 miles. She spent her childhood chasing after him, flying a quarter of the way around the world to tug at the hem of his jacket.

Now that he is in his eighties, she contemplates her obligation to an absentee father. The Truth About Unringing Phones is an exploration of responsibility and culpability told in experimental and fragmented essays.

The Truth About Unringing Phones

By Lara Lillibridge,

What is this book about?

When Lara was four years old, her father moved from Rochester, New York, to Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of over 4,000 miles. She spent her childhood chasing after him, flying a quarter of the way around the world to tug at the hem of his jacket. Now that he is in his eighties, she contemplates her obligation to an absentee father.




The Truth About Unringing Phones: Essays on Yearning is an exploration of responsibility and culpability told in experimental and fragmented essays.


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Interested in financial crises, Wall Street, and fraud?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about financial crises, Wall Street, and fraud.

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