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CoastLine: Fraud - An American History From Barnum To Madoff


There are crooks, criminals, and hucksters out there trying to get your money through investment scams, retail fraud, identity theft, and they’ve been there since commerce began.  But are there degrees of hucksterism?  What’s the line between an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a brilliant, albeit untested idea versus a good, old-fashioned snake oil salesman who doesn’t really care if what’s in the bottle he’s selling doesn’t work?  His goal:  to make the sale and move on. 

How has the regulatory environment in the U.S. changed over the course of American history and does it actually impact the sheer scope of fraud going on in America? 


Edward Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of History at Duke University, is also the author of Fraud:  An American History from Barnum to Madoff – a book published by Princeton University Press.