The Greatest Scams and Forgeries, Part 1

The Mormon Forgery Murders
One of the strangest chapters in Utah history began on October 15, 1985 when a man walked into an office building in Salt Lake City with a bomb. Steve Christiansen, an amateur historian, was killed instantly. An hour and a half later, the second bomb killed Kathy Sheets, a suburban housewife, when she picked up a package in her driveway. A third victim, Mark Hofmann, a Mormon document collector, was injured by a bomb the next day, but survived.

Christiansen and Sheets were connected to a floundering financial company and police initially focused their investigation in that area, but soon the investigation changed course and, meticulously, the police unraveled a complicated plot to salvage an enormous high-stakes forgery operation that threatened to undermine Mormon beliefs.

The Einstein of Crime
Gary Krist regards himself as the Einstein of crime. Albert Einstein, from Krists point of view, was a one-trick pony by comparison with his measly theory of relativity.

Krist's criminal accomplishments are far more diversegrand theft auto, prison escape, fraud, kidnapping for ransom and, most recently, cocaine importation and illegal immigrant smuggling.

Then came his magnum opus, the "perfect crime" he planned while still a youngster. In one of the most audacious and notorious crimes of the 1960s, at age 23, he kidnapped a young heiress in Atlanta and buried her alive in an underground capsule he had designed.

While the country held its breath, Krist and his mistress sidekick extracted a $500,000 ransom from the woman's father, a Florida real estate magnate and friend of President Nixon.

Frank Abagnale
An astonishingly successful young imposter and bad check artist moves from one profession to another, passing himself off as an airline pilot and doctor. This is the true story behind the successful movie "Catch Me If You Can," in which Frank is played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

A proven master of deception, he now runs a consulting firm to advise businesses on how to avoid financial fraud.

The Hitler Diaries
A German publishing company was persuaded that a collection of 60 hand-written notebooks were the diaries of Adolph Hitler, and they paid a sum of $2.3 million for the lot. They also bought a heretofore undiscovered third volume of his two-volume book, Mein Kampf. The most shocking revelation found in all of this material was that Hitler seemed to have been oblivious to "the final solution" that was used to exterminate millions of people. Apparently he had wanted the Jews to be resettled in the East. That meant that history books would have to be dramatically revised.

The story was passed around that the papers had been taken out of Berlin toward the end of WWII on board an airplane that had crashed. They were found by farmers and eventually came into the hands of a Nazi document collector, Konrad Kujau, via an unnamed general in East Germany. Kujau had taken them to a journalist, Gerd Heidemann, who was on the staff of Stern, a newspaper owned by Gruner and Jahr. Then Stern quickly began serializing the diaries, and sold publication rights to Newsweek in America and to The London Times.

There were samples of handwriting available that were known to be Hitler's, and three experts compared these with the documents. All of them agreed that all of the texts had been written by the same person, and that person's handwriting was the same as that in the comparison sample. Astonishingly enough, the Hitler diaries appeared to be authentic.

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