Fraud in America - by Stephen Lendman
A systemic problem, it's everywhere, especially in savage capitalism's greed-driven system, enriching a global royalty at the expense of most others. In his book "On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science," David Goodstein examined examples from centuries back to more recent times, including some accusations turning out to be false.
Trinity University's Bob Jensen maintains fraud updates through June 2009 on his web site, accessed through the following link:
He also reviewed a "History of Fraud in America," starting in colonial (and pre-colonial) times, saying the earliest kinds involved "phony health cures," including snake oil ploys, medical frauds, and other deceptions transitioning to today's "miracle cures and Internet charlatanism."
Largely agricultural early America saw land schemes as well as "deceptive rural living and farming products." Con men either bought or sold land. Victims were often immigrants and Indians. The one best remembered was the 1626 Manhattan Island purchase "for trinkets valued at 60 guilders," about $24. Ironically in a sense, Carnarsie Indians were the culprits as the land wasn't part of Manhattan. Usually, however, indigenous people were victimized, land scams expanding the country west and south, accompanied by others at the expense of the unwary.
Frontier history got crooked politicians and bureaucrats involved, accepting bribes collaboratively with land swindlers. It got worse during corporate America's early days. In 1787, less than 40 existed, mostly to build roads, bridges, canals, and other public projects. Many involved "bribes, kickbacks, and inflated prices" like today but for smaller stakes.
Checks and balances also arose, significantly in free press reporting, but not enough to curb greed or notorious "robber barons" like Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, and others, perhaps inspiring Honore de Balzac's maxim that "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime," or words to that effect.