The story of Joseph “Yellow Kid” Weil, a man who could—and often did—pull off scams to outshine The Sting.
In his long career as a confidence man, Joseph “Yellow Kid” Weil swindled the public of more than eight million dollars and established the reputation for robbery and trickery. Always beating the police at their own game, “Yellow Kid” used phony oil deals, women, fixed races, and an endless list of other tricks to best an increasingly gullible public. One day, he was Dr. Henri Reuel, a noted geologist who traveled around and told his hosts that he was a representative for a big oil company—all the while draining them of the cash they gave him to “invest in fuel.” The next day, he was director of the Elysium Development Company, promising land to innocent believers while robbing them in recording and abstract fees. Or he was a chemist par excellence who had discovered how to copy dollar bills; promising to increase your fortune, he would multiply your bills—then take the booty once the police arrived.
Originally published in 1948, here is Weil’s true and amazing story, with a smart and witty Afterword by none other than Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow, who profiled “Yellow Kid” for The Reporter in 1956. It is undeniable proof that “Yellow Kid” was the con man par excellence—the virtuoso scam artist, bar none.