THE SERPENT

prehistory
Eve may have eaten the apple, but it was the serpent that led her to the tree. He was literally a snake in the grass.

SINON

circa 1200 b.c.
You have to be a pretty great liar to convince your sworn enemies that you're surrendering out of the blue after 10 years of siege. But Sinon did just that when he tricked the Trojans into accepting a gift wooden horse (an idea from his pal Odysseus)—secretly filled with angry Greek soldiers.

BENEDICT ARNOLD

1741-1801
After one too many perceived snubs by the Americans, Arnold defected to the British army, betraying his country and his longtime advocate, George Washington. His name now is synonymous with traitor in the United States.

GREGOR MACGREGOR

1786-1845
Being a con man was so much easier before Google. Scotsman Gregor MacGregor told Europeans he was "the Cacique of Poyais," a small Latin American nation, and persuaded them to invest huge sums of money in fertile real estate. The only problem? Poyais didn't exist.

PINOCCHIO

1881-present
Originally the subject of an Italian novel later popularized by Disney, Pinocchio may be the most obvious liar of the group—which makes him all the more audacious for trying.

CHARLES PONZI

1882-1949
Ponzi raised millions from small-time investors in post-WWI Boston on the hopes of huge returns from a fishy international postage exchange, paving the way for predatory scammers for decades to come.

MICHAEL ROMANOFF

circa 1890-1971
Romanoff (né Gerguson) hustled his way up from small-time con man to big-time Hollywood restaurateur with an eponymous eatery by claiming to be a descendent of the last tsar of Russia. Everyone knew he was lying, but he was so well-loved by Angelenos that most didn't even care.

ELMYR DE HORY

1906-1976
One of the most successful art forgers of all time, de Hory aped the style (and signatures) of modernist masters from Modigliani to Picasso and persuaded collectors to pay huge sums for his work. Clifford Irving (who would later write a faux memoir "by" Howard Hughes) profiled him in his book Fake!, inspiring Orson Welles' famous pseudo-documentary F for Fake.

RICHARD NIXON

1913-1994
"I am not a crook."

JOHN "JOHNNY LIAR" GRAHAM

1937, or possibly 1938-present
Graham never conned anyone out of money or covered up any war crimes, but he probably could: He has won the World's Biggest Liar contest in Cumbria, England, seven times, making him the most successful contestant in the competition's 100-plus-years history.

KONRAD KUJAU

1938-2000
After years of forging Nazi memorabilia for closet fascists, Kujau started producing handwritten books he claimed were Hitler's personal diaries. He sold 62 volumes to a German journalist for millions of deutsche marks before being caught and sentenced to four and a half years in prison.