• CMTU History

Episode #11: Empire of Deception

My guest today is Dean Jobb. Dean is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist for over 35 years. During that time, he has received numerous awards in the United States and Canada for his investigative reporting. A lover of true crime and crime fiction, Dean writes a monthly true crime column for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called "Stranger than Fiction." 


Dean joins me via Skype to talk about his seventh book, Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation. Through his extensive research, Dean uncovered the tale of a largely forgotten con artist whose investment scheme put Charles Ponzi to shame. Today we cover the economic atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties that made Chicago ripe for the picking for a lawyer named Leo Koretz to implement his "big idea," how Koretz built an imaginary investment empire that made himself and his early investors fantastically wealthy, and how even the most carefully built house of cards eventually falls down.



Key Points in Today's Podcast Some of the major topics I discuss with Dean in this episode are:

  • The economic climate of the Roaring Twenties and how it allowed a scheme like Leo's to persist for as long as it did

  • Leo's "big idea"...the Biano Syndicate

  • How Ponzi schemes work and how they actually do make some people money despite being scams

  • Leo's tasteful manipulation of psychology and the perception of supply and demand to covertly attract new investors

  • How Leo eventually had to skip town and flee to Nova Scotia where he lived a Gatsby-esque lifestyle in plain sight

For the Ever Curious If you are interested in learning more about this topic, consider checking out these resources:

Books by Dean Jobb


www.deanjobb.com - Dean's website offers his biography, full descriptions of his books, a schedule of upcoming events, and links to his social media, including his Twitter @DeanJobb where he is quite active.


"Stranger than Fiction" - Launched in January 2018, Dean Jobb's monthly online column in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine reviews new true crime books and offers insight into the true crime genre.



© 2018 by Can't Make This Up History Podcast.

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