- The art of the Con
A Brief History of Swindling
Artur Alves Reis
Reis was one of the most aggressive swindlers that ever walked
the planet. He was born to a middle class family in Lisbon in the late 19th
century. He believed that because of the fact that he had not had the money
or upbringing to break into high society he still could create the tools that
were necessary with his own hands. His first minor step in that direction was
a magnificent forgery of an Oxford diploma, which therein proclaimed that he
had graduated with high honors from Oxford University with a degree in engineering.
Using this phony degree as a wedge, he was soon able to get a job as a government
railway inspector, in the then Portuguese Colony of Angola. He was smart as
well as dedicated to success and soon rose quickly up the management ladder
at the railroad and before too long had been made Inspector of Public Works,
technically this was the highest position in his falsely created field of engineering
that he could attain while working for that employer.
Meanwhile Reis had traveled extensively throughout the colony
and in spite of the fact that it was more than 10-times the size of his mother
country, he became intimately aware of its geography and geology. He soon came
to the belief that vast mineral riches were buried in this country and when
he discovered that, there was a spare $100,000 in the railroadâ€™s treasury, he
masterminded a successful plot to takeover the company to get at the money.
Once this had been accomplished, he pocketed the funds and began his mineral
exploration search in earnest. Sadly, his efforts were in vain and his theft
was soon uncovered. Reis was not at all remorseful over his failure but the
disaster only made him more determined that this would never happen again.