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2022 is the Year the Conmen Fell

Updated: Dec 22, 2022 12:09
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There is nothing new about the confidence game, but there are always new players.  In recent years we’ve seen Fyre Festival come and go, we saw Martin Shkreli rise and fall, The Epstein nightmare, and we even witnessed a reality TV star and infomercial steak knife salesmen become President of the United States.  But 2022 marked a particularly high uptick in the fall of prominent conmen.

Some of the biggest bullshit artists of a generation, from seemingly every public-facing industry we have.  Entertainment, finance, athletics, politics, and perhaps the most fertile vocation for bullshit artistry..the “social media influencers”.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that #1 movie on Netflix in 2022 was The Tinder Swindler, a documentary about a conman who defrauded dozens of women out of millions of dollars across Europe using a dating app, threats of violence, and false identities.

And then there was the series “Inventing Anna” (#3 most popular on Netflix in 2022) about an Instagram Influencer who posed as an heiress and conned rich people out of their money in Manhattan.

But in the last 12 months, more shady, A-list, carnival barkers (no offense to actual carnival barkers) have fallen from grace than in any other year I can remember. Some of the most influential figures in our culture lost the thing that was perhaps most valuable to them, the public’s trust.

Here is a list of the greatest bullshit artists who fell in 2022

1. Election Denier Candidates

In the 2022 US midterms the ‘election denier’ candidates overwhelmingly lost in battleground states, perhaps the greatest conman of a political generation, Donald Trump, handpicked politicians who were most vocal about denying the legitimacy of our Democratic process, and for the most part, voters said, “no thank you”.

Keep in mind that these democracy deniers still got votes from millions of Americans, so we have to stay vigilant, this grift hasn’t been completely stamped out, but at least this year its momentum was stalled.

2. Alex Jones

Photo By-Michael-Zimmermann

Perhaps the most vocal conspiracy theorist on the internet has been battling cancellation and bankruptcy for years now, but 2022 finally saw real progress in his demise.  If his fraudulent ‘herbal remedy’ schemes and the constant Qanon advocacy weren’t enough, his Sandy Hook denial, and the heinous trauma he caused its survivors, was what finally inspired a court of law to destroy him financially. In November 2022, a Texas judge ruled Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook parents $49 million for defamation.

So long dirtbag.

3. Sam Bankman-Fried

The poster boy for a silicon valley confidence man, “SBF” was indicted on eight-counts inlcuding Fraud, Money Laundering, and Campaign Finance Offenses.  With two Stanford law professors as parents, a degree from MIT, and touted philanthropy (Effective Altruism). SBF played the venture capitalists and the crypto enthusiasts like a fiddle.  He paid some of our favorite celebrities (Tom Brady & Steph Curry, Larry David) to shill his worthless tokens and build confidence with the public, all the while embezzling his costumer’s funds and gambling it all away.

When a 20-something moves his company to the Bahamas and refuses to have a board of directors, or any oversight…smh.

4.  Ye

A genius in music and promotion, Kanye’s 2022 was defined by a manic episode that saw him destroying every ounce of social and monetary capital he had built up over decades of marketing and production.   Kanye built a business empire by running counter to the mainstream, by taking things that were ‘uncool’, and making them cool.  Like taking gospel riffs and putting them in hip-hop songs, or taking ‘dad shoe’ designs and putting them on runways and on celebrities, but when he started trying to make MAGA hats cool, we all knew it was the beginning of the end.

When he started wearing ‘white lives matter’ t-shirts and repeating the most anti-semitic tropes imaginable, Ye finally lit the match that burned his own empire to the ground. No one will ever trust him again.

5. Elon Musk

Menlo-Park, Elon-Musk-overlooking-the-remains-of-F9R.  Photo By Steve Jurvetson.

Elon Musk is perhaps the greatest innovator of the 21st century.  But when he needs to raise billions upon billions of dollars for the world-changing projects he’s envisioned, he needs to garner a great deal of confidence from the world and the elite to do it.

Whether Elon will be remembered as the Edison of the electric vehicle, the Steve Jobs of space travel, or the Howard Hughes of social media, is still to be determined.  When Musk bought Twitter for an insanely overpriced sum, he signed away the financial future of Tesla and Space X in the near term.

Elon has to find a way to pay over a billion dollars a year just in interest, on the loans he took against his Tesla stock to buy Twitter, and every time he has to sell stock to make the interest payments, Tesla stock goes down, inching closer to margin calls and a downward spiral.  All to buy a social media company never designed to make the one thing he needs, cash.

Elon used Twitter and social media in the past to move global markets, he was the richest man on earth.  The very tool he used to rise, is like an anchor around his neck now.  Will it become his Spruce Goose? Will he ever regain the public’s trust?

5.  Donald Trump

When Trump’s favorite election-denying candidates all lost their races in the midterms, even Conservative kingmaker Rupert Murdoch turned his back on the former President. Outright disparaging columns began popping up in conservative newspapers within the Murdoch empire.  Now, The Donald is hawking NFT trading cards to pay his legal bills, as the Southern District of New York closes in.  With his political cover blown, the greatest conman of a political generation may finally be out of confidence.

7. Giovanni Infantino & FIFA

Recently, Americans have been finding out about the dirty, bribery-laden, game that is international futbol & its governing body, FIFA. In the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup more than 50 individual and corporate defendants have been criminally charged, mostly in connection with alleged bribes and the laundering of those payments to FIFA officials and cronies. Four corporations and 27 people pleaded guilty to various bribery and money-laundering charges.  All around placing the World Cup in Qatar, a country without grass and pitiable record on human rights.

Yet, Infantino stood in front of billions of soccer fans this winter and pretended that FIFA, and the Qatari World Cup was perfectly legit.  No one was fooled, and a day for reckoning for FIFA and its dirtbags is coming.

8. Andrew Tate

Andrew Tate, a viral social media influencer who dominated streaming and TikTok in 2022.  His video rants and interviews had views in the BILLIONS across platforms, but he was unceremoniously banned from YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram in 2022.  With his pyramid scheme “Hustlers University” defamed, and his alpha-male, masochistic facade de-platformed for good, he finally faded from public view.

9. Liver King

Ahh, the Liver King.  Where do we begin?  The Liver King is a viral influencer with tens of millions of followers.  He claimed to only eat raw meat, liver, and animal testicles as a means to get ‘ripped’ and of course sell his supplements and lifestyle books.  But it was revealed in 2022 via emails leaked by his trainer, that the liver king was taking $10k worth of steroids and HGH a month.  lol.

 

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A post shared by Liver King (@liverking)

 

Here’s to 2023, hopefully, we’ve all learned our lessons, and won’t be fooled again ; )

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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2 Comments

  1. December 24, 2022 at 9:38 am — Reply

    Dude, if you’re call out grifters, don’t actively repeat one of their grifts as if it’s true.

    Elon Musk is not an innovator. He’s racist, sexist, privileged son of an apartheid profiteer. He didn’t create anything, he just used his daddy’s money to buy his way onto the boards of PayPal and Tesla before retroactively having himself listed as a “founder”. He hasn’t had one single good idea in his life, and purposefully pumped up every bad idea he’s ever had.

    To say nothing of the fact that he tried to pull internet access from Ukrainians as they were being attacked by Russians – and that was before the shitshow at Twitter.

    Call him whatever you want (“union-buster”; “white privilege poster boy”; “promoter of white supremacists like Trump and other red-pill/right-wing incel morons), but a word like “innovator” should be nowhere in the conversation.

  2. SS
    December 24, 2022 at 11:36 am — Reply

    Elon Musk is not an innovator. He is a purchaser and owner, and seemingly waster, of innovators and innovation.

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