Our life is very hypocritical. We get used to cheating since early childhood. “White lie”, fear, uncertainty – everything makes us tell lies, deceive and conceal. Student life is full of violent challenges and trials. You are supposed to be studying and writing essays around the clock and still remember everything. In this way, there is a great temptation to forget everything and fall asleep just for a while.
Then you wake up and realize that Judgment Day is coming and you have an exam today. You feel absolutely destroyed and know nothing. You have a choice: to save your dignity and proudly write nothing on your paper or to forget your pride and try to use some cheat notes. In the first case, you get out of the game. In the second case, you roll the dice: if your cover is blown, you will be expelled; you understand it but still risk your life.
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The idea of educational cheating was firstly used by neither a student nor a schoolchild. Cheating is gradually taking over the world. It is everywhere: in the kindergarten (where children pretend to be asleep during the naptime, although they are not), in the schools and colleges (where students are cheating on the exams and pretend to be smarter than they are indeed), in the public institutions (where people pretend to be helpful and indispensable although they are not).
A temptation of fraud is constantly chasing us. Wherever we go, whatever we do – there is no path to salvation! Our attitude to the famous cheaters is very ambiguous: we condemn and admire them at the same time. We know that everything they do is a mortal thin, crime or harm, but we are trapped in a carnival mirror of fraud and there is no way to escape!
A King, a Philosopher and a Genius
Amazingly, the idea of educational cheating was firstly used by neither a student nor a schoolchild. The first one who had firstly tasted this forbidden fruit was Charlemagne – one of the most powerful monarchs in Western Europe. He extended the boundaries of his great empire twice but he was not able to read and write.
However, in order to sign all the important public documents, he ordered to think of his signature and to write it down on a piece of parchment. Therefore, every time Charlemagne needed to sign something, he had to copy it carefully. Ironically, the first one who cheated in the educational institution was Aristotle, who just got a peek at Pythagoras’s answers.
One of the most resourceful con men ever was Victor Lustig. He was famous for… selling the Eiffel Tower! He made his own printing press at the age of twenty. When he arrived in Paris, he read in the newspapers that Eiffel Tower needs repairing badly. Shortly after that, he got a room in some luxurious hotel and invited many rich businessmen for a conference.
Having posed as a Deputy Minister of Communications, he told them that the maintenance and repair of the Eiffel tower cost too much and the Government of France intends to sell it as a scrap metal but does not want to disclose secret information. Having convinced everyone, he just disappeared with a case full of money. After some time, he came back and sold the Eiffel Tower one more time! Despite the fact that Victor Lustig ended up in prison, he was one of the greatest crafty men in the history of humanity.
A King of Frauds
Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (Giuseppe Balsamo) was one of the most mystical figures of his century. He predicted the fall of the Bastille. Only art can save us from the cheating because it is the biggest illusion in the world. He could swallow a fork, enlarge a diamond and make a statue move. He was often repeating that his parents are a princess and an angel. In Egypt, he hooked up with the street fakirs and studied hypnosis, magical formulas and some complicated tricks. He said he could read human thoughts, see the future as well as the past and make the elixir of immortality.
He was constantly replenishing his arsenal of tricks to catch the attention of the public. For instance, he arranged some magical sessions, spoke to angels through small children and told the stories that he had a dinner with Henry VIII, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire. He took money for nothing and spent them like a drunken sailor. His story inspired plenty of talented writers, such as Alexander Dumas, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Leo Tolstoy. In this way, such excellent books as “Joseph Balsamo or Memoirs of a Physician” and “Count Cagliostro” were born by their imagination.
A Great Money Launderer
Frank Abagnale was the most talented financial fraud ever. He ripped off his father in the age of 17 and that was a brilliant start of his stunning career. He printed his account number on the clean bank deposit blanks and got a great amount of money. Then he was flying all over the world for free, wearing a uniform of Pan Airlines and pretending to be a co-pilot. His uniform and fake certificates were enough to get plenty of money in the bank.
Then he pretended to be a pediatrician. He was acting so naturally that his neighbor (who was a real doctor) offered him to work as a director of pediatric in his hospital. Having got tired of being a doctor, Frank Abagnale forged a Harvard diploma and successfully passed a very complicated trial test to become a lawyer. After that, he started working at the procurator's office. Being chased by the police of the 26 countries, finally, he was arrested in France.
However, all is well that ends well: nowadays Frank Abagnale is a multimillionaire with his own consulting company and a big family. He wrote some books about the protection from the fraud. His story was made into a marvelous movie “Catch me if you can” by Steven Spielberg, starring incomparable Leonardo Di Caprio. If these stories have caught your interest, you can always discover more interesting facts about con men here. All in all, cheating and con men are everywhere, they just run the world, but do not give up! The only place you can hide from evil is art – the sweetest fraud ever. Just keep calm and enjoy the beauty!