The Impostor Heiress
Cassie Chadwick, The Greatest Grifter of the Gilded Age
Before there was Anna Delvey or Elizabeth Holmes, there was Cassie Chadwick. The first woman–using criminal cunning, some confidence, and a bit of charm—to bring down a federal agent, a bank, and a city’s worth of men.
Paroled felon. Rich doctor’s wife. Famous clairvoyant. The best con artists know how to reinvent themselves, time and time again. Cassie Chadwick, one of history’s most successful con artists, was a master of the trade. Over the course of fifteen years, she swept from town to town, assuming new identities and running new swindles at each railroad stop. In the dusk of the Gilded Age, years after the robber barons had amassed their fortunes, she was amassing her own.
Then came the Carnegie con. Using her wits and a series of forged documents, Cassie convinced prominent men from Cleveland to New York City that she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter. Blinded by the name of the most powerful man in the world, businessmen lined up to loan her hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. The con made her impossibly rich. The crash shattered banks and bankers alike. Her sensational trial drew the eyes of a nation that couldn’t get enough of the woman, who newspapers called the Queen of Swindlers, the Duchess of Diamonds, the High Priestess of Fraudulent Finance. Indeed, when Charles Ponzi’s infamous scheme collapsed in 1920, reporters scoffed that “Ponzi is a piker compared to Cassie.”
Interspersing Cassie’s crimes with stories of an unsuspecting Andrew Carnegie, author Annie Reed spins an enthralling, page turning tale of true crime. Could the rumors be true? Can Cassie’s money last? Will she escape the electric chair?
Told with a gossip columnists’ charm and wit, THE IMPOSTER HEIRESS, is a rollicky trickster’s tale that will appeal to history buffs and true crime aficionados alike to bring one of the greatest swindlers of all time back into the public eye.