The 5 Ballsiest Double-Crosses Ever Pulled Off
We've all been double-crossed by someone at some point. Maybe the cab driver tried to charge us more than the meter said, or the stereo we ordered on eBay was actually a box full of cat crap, or our Russian girlfriend turned out to be a guy from Nigeria -- hey, we've all been there, and we've all wanted to punch the other person in the junk when it happened.
But some people turn betrayal into an art form, screwing over those who trusted them in ways so unbelievably insane that we can't help feeling a little bit of admiration for these guys. It's still not enough to save their junk from our screaming, reeling uppercuts, but it's something.
Lawyer Frames Guatemala's President ... for the Lawyer's Murder
Rodrigo Rosenberg was a successful Harvard-educated attorney in Guatemala who was shot dead while riding his bicycle back in 2009. Sadly, this is literally an everyday occurrence in Guatemala: They love riding bikes almost as much as they love assassinations. But then things took a turn for the weird. At his funeral, they presented a video that Rosenberg himself had made before he died, claiming that in the event that he was murdered, the president of Guatemala would be responsible. Here's a version with subtitles:
The video went viral, and Guatemala lunged into a crisis. Politicians, members of the media and thousands of citizens called on the president to resign, while Rosenberg became a martyr. The government denied everything, but naturally the public wasn't buying their shit. The director of a respected newspaper wrote of the ludicrous denials that "The only thing missing now is for the president and his henchmen to say that it was Rodrigo himself who ... paid the assassins to murder him."
And that's exactly what happened. It's not that we're buying the lazy government coverup; the evidence was so overwhelming that even the guy who wrote those words, and Rosenberg's own son, had to admit that the attorney had committed suicide in one of the most insane political conspiracies ever.
"Here is the exact location where you will have found my body in the case of this possible future murder ..."
Shortly after the video was released, President Alvaro Colom allowed the United Nations to carry out an investigation and refused to resign, because it turns out that the YouTube comments section isn't grounds for an impeachment. To everyone's surprise, the investigation ended up revealing that the hit men who killed Rosenberg were using cellphones bought by Rosenberg himself, that he'd withdrawn the exact amount of money the hit men were paid days before his death and that he'd made threatening calls to himself from his own house to make his story look legit. Eventually, two cousins of Rosenberg's ex-wife confessed to having helped him hire the hit men.
"I mean, we were going to kill him anyway because he's an asshole, but then he told us that insane plan."
So why did he do it? Rosenberg had been having an affair with the daughter of a client of his, both of whom had been recently killed. His client had been involved in shady dealings, and as we mentioned, Guatemala is all about murders and cycling. Already deranged over the loss, Rosenberg blamed a political plot for his lover's death and decided to bring down the entire government as revenge. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling U.N. and their pesky dog.
Corporate Whistle-Blower Scams the Company He Was Blowing the Whistle On
Mark Whitacre was an executive at Archer Daniels Midland, one of the most important agricultural businesses in the U.S., and many people believed that he was on the fast track to becoming president of the entire company. However, after discovering that ADM was engaged in an illegal price-fixing operation, Whitacre jeopardized his career to do the right thing and become an FBI informant, wearing wires and spying on his colleagues and bosses for three years.
The evidence he amassed allowed the FBI to take down an international cartel and send top executives at ADM to prison, including its vice chairman, Michael Andreas, and one of its most respected vice presidents, Mark Whitacre. Wait, what?
He's a complicated man. And the only one who understands him is the FBI.
Oh, did you think the double-cross was going to be Whitacre courageously informing on his own company? Nope, the real double-cross was that at the same time, Whitacre was also stealing millions of dollars from ADM right under the FBI's nose.
When Whitacre's role as a corporate mole became public, ADM did what powerful corporations do when threatened by someone, which is to dig up as much dirt on him as possible. In Whitacre's case, they didn't have to dig very far -- it turned out that he had been embezzling from ADM for several years, with the bulk of the theft occurring while Whitacre was "bravely" informing for the FBI ... and demanding that they pay him for it.
Because his $350,000-a-year job in 1992 wasn't quite cutting it.
Even after being found out, Whitacre insisted that the whole thing was somehow the FBI's fault in an interview with Fortune magazine ... that he later admitted was completely phony, thus screwing the publication as well.
The fact that Whitacre thought that he could get away with stealing almost $9 million from his company in the middle of an FBI investigation suggests a seriously testicularly skewed balls-to-brains ratio. Due to his extracurricular activities, Whitacre lost his whistle-blower's immunity and was sent to prison for a whole decade, while the two other ADM executives he originally blew the whistle on only got three years apiece.
"I'm a screwing machine, baby! But not in the fun sense!"
Don't feel sad for Whitacre, though, because his dramatic story of cunning and intrigue was turned into a Steven Soderbergh movie called The Informant! ... where Matt Damon portrays him as a hilarious moron.
London's Greatest Hero Turns Out to Be Its Worst Villain
Jonathan Wild was the closest thing early 18th century London had to a police commissioner. There was no official police force back then, and the politicians were helpless to fight back against the criminals that ran rampant across the city -- basically, imagine Gotham at the beginning of Batman Begins, except everybody's wearing slick top hats and there's much less racial diversity. Luckily, London's helpless citizens could count on the protection of the awesomely named Jonathan Wild, the best known "thief taker" in England.
And his mighty "taking" stick.
Besides organizing large and efficient groups of bounty hunters who broke up gangs and sent criminals to the gallows, Wild also specialized in retrieving stolen property: If someone ransacked your home, it was customary to go to Wild and tell him what was missing and the details of the case, and he would get it back, for a fee. It was like filing a police report directly to Boba Fett.
Except that Wild was the one who stole your shit in the first place.
"No, ma'am, you're missing the green lamp. The red one is in your pantry ... I assume."
Wild's group of thief catchers was actually just a group of thieves, period -- they'd break into homes and steal stuff, and Wild would then scam the owners into buying their own things back. Sometimes he'd charge surplus phony fees to get the stolen property back from "fencers" (actually his own warehouses), and other times the victims would be so thankful that they'd just straight up give him extra money for doing such a great job.
Any thief who crossed Wild or operated outside his massive criminal empire was turned over to the authorities to be imprisoned or hanged, which helped preserve his image of legitimacy. In this way, Wild became the supreme crime boss in London while disguised as its master policeman. It is possible that as many as 120 people were executed after being exposed by him. So Jonathan Wild was the father of not only the modern police force, but of modern organized crime as well.
His entire life was irony.
However, like Al Capone, Wild was not taken down because of the people he'd killed, but for a much more minor offense: When a thief Wild had sold out accused him of a petty crime, an investigation confirmed it, and Wild was promptly convicted and hanged. That petty crime? Accepting money for stolen property. Dang, and we thought the RIAA was severe ...
Respected Professor Steals Israel's Secrets (and Their Women)
In the 1950s, Dr. Israel Beer was considered one of the foremost experts on military history in Israel, besides being a trusted adviser of the country's prime minister. His resume was impressive: Before immigrating to Palestine in the late '30s, Beer had graduated from the Austrian military and fought in the Spanish Civil War, where he was known by the alias "Colonel Jose Gregorio" -- a name somehow even cooler than "Dr. Beer." He was also a successful ladies' man, even at his advanced age.
OK, we take it back -- "Dr. Beer" is the greatest name ever.
In Israel, Beer served as a colonel in the War for Independence in 1948, and afterward was given access to the military's secret archives to write a history of the conflict. In the meantime, the middle-aged professor was boning his way through the Tel Aviv nightlife ... and like so many great men before him, his penis would be his undoing. It turns out that this hero of the Jewish people wasn't even circumcised.
If only one of the women Beer slept with had mentioned that small fact to someone, the Israeli government could have avoided a huge headache, because Beer's crime was greater than letting the Lil Warrior keep his armor -- he was spying for the communists.
Turns out "being a big ol' lying liar" wasn't a crime. With justice, you take what you can get.
You see how this could be a problem: Not only did Beer have access to Israel's military secrets, but he was so trusted in the government that he managed to tear pages straight from the prime minister's diaries and give them to the commies -- (yes, even the one with the secret poem he wrote to Debby!). After he was discovered handing over a briefcase full of sensitive information to the KGB in 1961, the authorities realized that Beer's entire biography had been faked. He was not a decorated Austrian officer and he had never fought in Spain -- "Colonel Jose Gregorio," the name too smooth to be true, was in fact not. Heartbreaking, we know.
Incidentally, the only part that turned out to be real was his success with women. Several entries in Beer's diary were marked with multiple "X"s, which Israeli intelligence initially believed represented contacts with his Soviet handler. However, when he was pressed on the subject by his interrogators, it turned out that they just indicated the number of women he had banged that month.
Shameless FBI Agent Profits from World Wars, Widow Murders and Baby Kidnappings
The 1920s were a time of gangsters, bootleggers and women voters, but not everyone was a flagrant ne'er-do-well: You also had the brave men of the (Federal) Bureau of Investigation, who helped keep the country safe from such atrocities. One of those men was Gaston Means, private detective extraordinaire.
It's like Alfred Hitchcock ate Andy Richter.
Means earned his position in the bureau by having served as a secret agent for three years in World War I while working for a detective agency. When his boss, William J. Burns, was named head of the FBI in 1921, he brought Means along with him to keep fighting the good fight. And what could go wrong? Surely there's no impending betrayal of some kind here ...
Notice that we didn't mention which side of the war Means helped on. That's because he and his boss played both the Germans and the Allies for suckers. In 1914, Burns was approached by the British to investigate German activities in New York. When the Germans approached him for the opposite task, Burns let his pal Means take the job and the two began feeding each other information to keep their respective employers coughing up money. Means alone milked $100,000 a year out of the Germans until the U.S. entered the war in 1917, then he switched sides and started helping the British, too.
"Their entire war effort hinges on me not owning a yacht. But I know how you can thwart them!"
The future FBI chief was so fond of Means that he even helped keep him out of jail when he was accused of murdering the rich widow he'd been using as a personal piggy bank. Seems as though one day, while out rabbit hunting (does that ever end well?) alone with Means, the poor woman accidentally shot herself ... in the back of the head. And despite his clear resemblance to Elmer Fudd, there was no wisecracking rabbit present to thwart his plans. With Burns' help, Means was acquitted for the horrible crime he'd obviously committed.
Once he became a federal agent, Means began shaking down bootleggers for money. His luck seemed to run out when he was accused of corruption and arrested ... but even with a murder trial and a prison sentence on his record, Gaston was still able to pull a few good cons. First he co-wrote a best-selling book in which he claimed that his personal pal President Warren G. Harding (whom he had never met) had been poisoned by his wife. Then he scammed his co-writer out of the profits ...
Now, that is how you do a book cover!
... and finally, he figured out how to profit from the Lindbergh baby kidnapping when he convinced a wealthy friend of the family that he had been in touch with the kidnappers and would be able to get the baby back, for a modest fee. A few weeks and more than $100,000 in ransom money later, they finally figured out that Means was full of shit, and he was sent to prison again. They never found the money.
See, that's how you do federal corruption. None of this "petty embezzling" or "selling state secrets" crap -- if you're gonna be a bad guy, you might as well go whole hog and skip right to the "Dead Babies, Exploiting" section of your Evil Handbook.
For more people whose balls outgrew their pants, check out The 6 Most Badass Airline Pilots to Ever Stare Down Death and The 5 Most Epic One-Man Rampages in the History of War.