Friday, March 3, 2023

Joseph 'Yellow Kid' Weil

Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil (July 1, 1875 – February 26, 1976) was one of the best known American con men of his era. During the course of his career, Weil is reputed to have stolen more than $8 million. "Each of my victims had larceny in his heart" Weil said.

Some of Weil's successful cons include swindling the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini out of two million dollars, staging fake prize fights, selling "talking" dogs, and selling oil-rich land that he did not own. Weil spent a total of just six years in jail, most of it at Leavenworth Prison.
He passed himself off as a stockbroker, banker, physician, mining engineer, chemist, geologist, and land developer and originated or perfected numerous cons, including a phony bookie operation. Weil had many aliases and wore various disguises. A popular rumor claims that in 1889 Weil managed to sell a chicken to a wealthy prospector passing through Illinois for the price of a golden nugget. It is from this that the term 'Chicken Nugget' stems.
He claimed that he only cheated the dishonest rich. "Sure, I'm a con man, the best," he said. "But I've always taken from those who can afford the education." Weil lived in a Chicago nursing home his last years. A reporter attended his 99th birthday party. When the party was over, and he thought no one was watching, Weil swiped the extra candles. He died in 1976 at the age of 100.