She was already involved in crime in her teens in late-19th-Century Canada, but Cassie Chadwick nee Elizabeth Bigley really kicked things up a notch after moving to Cleveland, where she bilked two unsuspecting husbands and ran a sham fortune-telling business. After serving jail time for forgery, Chadwick hatched her most famous con convincing an associate of her wealthy physician husband that she was the illegitimate daughter of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, one of the world's richest men. Carnegie, Chadwick alleged, was paying her millions of dollars to keep silent about her ties to the eminent tycoon. Chadwick was able to borrow vast sums from banks and wealthy individuals on the basis of this claim, but the scheme collapsed when, in 1904, a businessman from whom she had borrowed some $200,000 called in the loan. Her promissory notes were revealed as forgeries, and Chadwick was hustled off to prison, where she died in 1907.
Next Anna Anderson