Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

This famous U.S. president was one of the most popular subjects for both professional and amateur forgers. How to tell if your Lincoln letter is a fake.

Imagine that you could earn nearly a million dollars for every year you spent in prison with the understanding that you would likely get out in the prime of your life. Would you take that $15 million deal to make a movie of your life?

Suppose you could live like royalty behind bars, in almost total control, with guests free to come and go as they pleased, cellphones, TV, gourmet food and fine wine to eat and drink. Would that make the deal worth 20 years of your life?

Sobraj is a con man, jewel thief, drug dealer and murderer, but one who lived a life of adventure and intrigue that made him a media celebrity.

The particulars of legendary D.B. Cooper's clever airborne crime and daredevil getaway have been pondered, picked over and recapitulated for over three decades now.

He hijacked and threatened to blow up an airliner, extorted $200,000 from Northwest Orient, then leaped from the airborne 727 with 21 pounds of $20 bills strapped to his torso and vanished. The crime was perfect if he lived, perfectly crazy if he didn't.

Either case, D.B. Cooper's nom de crime--no one knows his real name--may be the most recognized alias among western felons since Jack the Ripper.

The world's greatest art forger lived a turbulent life despite his great success in selling fake drawings and paintings.

Astonishingly successful young imposter and bad check artist moves from one profession to another, passing himself off as an airline pilot and doctor. The true story behind the successful movie in which Frank is played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The "Einstein of Crime" kidnapped daughter of President Nixon's friend and buried her alive in underground capsule.

Two "nice" Mormon boys become murdering monsters when they create cult called the Children of Thunder.

Suddenly some diaries of Hiitler's appear that show him to be entirely different than the historical record. Are these diaries fakes or was Hitler really a nice guy?

Successful but ethically-flawed author creates a literary furor with his fake autobiography of billionaire tycoon Howard Hughes.

At the peak of his success, money manager Kenneth Wayne McLeod was living the high life off of the savings of his many clients, who believed their money had been safely invested. Though his Ponzi scheme was not remarkable, his victims were. They numbered in the hundreds, many were law enforcement employees.

The ruthless queen of New York real estate, didn't want her reputation as one of the meanest women in America to survive her, but that was precisely what happened.

Neurotic weirdo, surrounded by riches and beautiful women, is the mastermind of a $200 million insurance fraud that reached all the way to the Vatican. From his lavish cocoon, he masterminded one of the largest, most bizarre embezzlement schemes in American history, one that rocked the insurance and investment industries and spanned the globe from the unassuming town of Toledo, Ohio, to the gilded dome of the Vatican.

An outstanding case of forensic techniques used to solve a horrifying bombing case in which two people were murdered.

The greatest scientific forgery which fooled the world for decades. Every one involved is highly respectable, so look at the evidence and decide who was the joker.

Mother and son team were bold con artists and murderers, as well as lovers. Adrian Havill, author of the definitive book on the case, writes up the highlights of their audacious criminal career.

Daring, Hollywood-style thefts of the world's great masterpieces.

New plays, collections of letters, paintings -- all by or about the famous man -- or were they the awe-inspiring works of two audacious forgers?

Forensic analysis finds the piece of cloth believed to be the shroud of Jesus is much older than medieval times. Hoax or authentic?

It could have been a scene from "The Sopranos" except it was real. Two members of the Mafia and an associate had met to discuss the shakedown of a Hollywood movie star. The actor was Steven Seagal, a martial artist who specialized in playing tough-guy heroes on the big screen.

It wasn't Seagal's first meeting with these men. In December 2000, the same group had showed up in Toronto on the set of Seagal's film, Exit Wounds. This time they brought along 350-pound Richard "the Lump" Bondi, an enforcer for the family, hoping to get their point across to the actor. Seagal had severed his relationship with Jules Nasso, having decided to stop making violent action films on the advice of his spiritual guru. But Ciccone and company weren't interested in Seagal's spiritual awakening. Nasso had already lined up four action-adventure projects for himGenghis Khan, Blood on the Moon, Smash and Grab, and Prince of Central Parkall of them in the slam-bang style that had made Seagal famous. The Gambino family wanted him to keep making action films, and they also wanted him to pay them $150,000 for each of his futures projects.

Treva Throneberry: She went from city to city, each time with a new identity masquerading as an abused teenager when she was really in her 30s. Was this a hoax to con the government out of money and foster care or a very rare psychological disorder?

Her husband was missing, but the lovely opera singer Gruseck claimed he was just on a trip. Months of police investigation would ultimately turn up the missing millionaire, Gruseck's shady past and a scam worthy of her operatic aspirations.

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