Cons, Swindlers, and Cheats

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Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 quarters

Taught by

Despite access to all sorts of information, people continue to be conned, swindled, and cheated out of their hard-earned money. Is it true anyone can be conned? How can we protect ourselves and our communities against cons who by their very nature make situations seem reasonable and socially compelling?

This program provides an overview of various schemes and trickery that fraudsters employ in the financial world and elsewhere. From the original Charles Ponzi and his schemes in the early 1900s to the current-day massive affinity fraud perpetrated by Bernie Madoff, we will look at the schemers and their victims. If an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But the success of real-life swindlers shows how often this simple advice is ignored. We will explore what makes investors and others reach for the fool’s gold of seemingly foolproof and lucrative investment opportunities. We will also look at the psychology of fraudsters and try to determine what makes them operate outside the normal laws of society.

The program is designed for students with a strong interest in finance and investments or those interested in what drives the most basic of human instincts, greed. Spotting a con requires us to think critically about situations and to find a balance between trusting and self-preservation. By the end of the program, you should be able to think creatively about ways to protect yourself and society from fraudsters.

Program Details

Fields of Study

business and management

Preparatory For

business and finance.


Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

No Required Online Learning