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Welcome to the Golden Age of Grift

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Millennials, per popular stereotypes, are not known for our firm grounding in reality or steely sense of personal responsibility. We spend loosely, and save little. We’re idealists with incoherent ideals. Every so often, we build things that change the world, probably for the worse. And, though grifting is an ancient art, today’s young con artists bring a generationally distinct flavor to the craft: They prey on our faith in the mythical startup founder—and, to a further extent than scammers of yore, anyway, they buy their own BS. When they fall, their stories transfix us.

Take the viral tale of “Faux It Girl” Anna Delvey.: The 27-year-old daughter of a truck driver from a working class suburb of Cologne, Germany, ensorcelled high rollers in the Soho arts scene and racked up massive bills at downtown hotels, passing as an eccentric heiress with a bottomless trust fund. She slipped every waiter or bellhop a $100 bill. Armed with a falsified records of a 60 million euro Swiss account, she’d talked her way into a $100,000 line of credit. Her Instagram and the high-society friends she snookered fortified her fake persona, while she courted investors for an exclusive arts collective she claims—even now, from Rikers Island—that she honestly intended to found. Just last week, she carried out one last con as a remandee in Rikers: the........

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