15 True Crime Books About Con Artists For Anyone Riveted By The Anna Delvey Story
With several fraud cases lighting up the newswire, now's the perfect time to read some true crime books about con artists. I've picked out 15 titles for you to check out below, so keep reading to find out which true story thriller you should read this year.
Stories of real-life confidence games are everywhere these days. Rachel DeLoache Williams has a book deal to tell the story of convicted impostor Anna "Delvey" Sorokin, who posed as an heiress to scam the idle rich out of their fortunes. A new film in theaters now, J.T. Leroy, explores the case of the woman who posed as the controversial author for years. Wherever you turn, you can't escape the specter of fraud and deception.
Con artists have made headlines for centuries, and most people can probably name at least one financial, forgery, or identity scandal that shook the foundations of cable news in their lifetime. Whether you love true crime and con-artist narratives, or you're new to the genre entirely, the books on the list below will make the perfect, pulled-from-the-headlines addition to your reading list.
Check out the true-crime books about con artists below — just don't get too inspired by the stories:
'Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup' by John Carreyrou
In Bad Blood, journalist John Carreyrou tells the inside story of Elizabeth Holmes' tech startup, Theranos, a company that made billions off of a medical technology concept that ultimately failed to deliver.
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger' by Lee Israel
Recently adapted into a film starring Melissa McCarthy, Lee Israel's true-crime memoir chronicles her career as the infamous literary forger who passed off fake letters from famous writers as the real thing.
'Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World' by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope
The story of a $5 billion heist carried out in the heart of Goldman Sachs, Billion Dollar Whale explains how one man spent 10 years skimming money from an investment account to make himself filthy rich.
'King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor' by Paul Willetts
In the early 20th century, Rhode Island con artist Edgar Laplante adopted the persona of Chief White Elk, a supposed Cherokee native and activist. Under the pretense of raising money for reservations, Laplante conned the western U.S. and continental Europe out of their cold, hard cash.
'Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art' by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo
In this sweeping case study of art forgery, Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo explore how one man manipulated others into producing fraudulent works of art, which he then sold for big bucks.
'The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery' by Greg King and Penny Wilson
In 1918, Bolshevik revolutionaries assassinated Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei. Years later, a woman named Anna Anderson surfaced in a German asylum, claiming to be Anastasia herself.
'Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud' by Elizabeth Greenwood
Although it remains a common trope in film, TV, and literature, faking your own death is actually pretty difficult to do these days. In Playing Dead, Elizabeth Greenwood explores the many ways in which the modern-day fraudster could attempt such a disappearing act.
'The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy' by Paige Williams
In 2012, a Florida native sold a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton for more than $1 million. There was just one problem — the seller didn't have any legal claim to the fossil or the money.
'Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee' by Casey Cep
In the 1970s, To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee sat in on the trial of a man accused of murdering a pastor who himself was accused (and dubiously acquitted) of murdering five family members for the insurance money. She hoped to write her own In Cold Blood based on the case of fraud and murder. Casey Cep tells the tale of the murders, the trials, and Lee's efforts in Furious Hours.
'The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con' by Amy Reading
After being swindled twice by a group of stock-market cons, a rancher named J. Frank Norfleet headed out from his Texas home, bent on pulling off a long con to get revenge on the men who cheated him. Amy Reading tells his amazing story in The Mark Inside.
'The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron' by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
Penned by Fortune senior writers, this account of the Enron scandal delves deep into the details of the infamous fraud case, exposing major and minor players alike. If you've ever wanted to know what, exactly, that whole Enron thing was all about, this is the book you need to read.
'The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust' by Diana B. Henriques
An investment huckster who conned friends and relatives out of $65 billion, Bernie Madoff has lived to see his name become synonymous with "con man." Read all about how he pulled off his schemes in Diana B. Henriques' The Wizard of Lies.
'Impostors: Literary Hoaxes and Cultural Authenticity' by Christopher L. Miller
Focusing on cases in which authors impersonated people of other ethnic groups and life circumstances in order to get published, Christopher L. Miller's Impostors exposes an ongoing problem of literary fraud.
'A Disposition to Be Rich: Ferdinand Ward, the Greatest Swindler of the Gilded Age' by Geoffrey C. Ward
Geoffrey C. Ward's gripping work of true crime, A Disposition to Be Rich, digs into the story of one of the 19th century's biggest financial disasters, exploring how the author's great-grandfather managed to bankrupt Ulysses S. Grant.
'The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It... Every Time' by Maria Konnikova
After all that reading about fraudsters, you might worry that you're at risk of falling victim to their schemes. By showing you how everyone falls for swindlers' tricks, Maria Konnikova's The Confidence Game will teach you how to spot frauds who have made you their mark.