Best Rip-Off Artists in Richmond History

“Richmond seems to always be open to new people coming to town and taking their money,” observes Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Richmond History Center. Here are just a few examples:

1. The Philanthropist’s Jailers: In the 1970s and ’80s, physician Alvin Q. Jarrett and attorney B. Roland Freasier Jr. kept wealthy widow Mary Morton Parsons in seclusion in Virginia Beach, where they drugged her and diverted millions’ worth of stock into their own accounts.

2. The Would-Be Blue-Blood: Stockbroker Clyde Pitchford charmed Richmond society with tales of his (fictitious) plantation-owning family. In February 1986 he skipped town after stealing more than $1 million from his clients, only to be caught — and convicted — months later.

3. The Ignoble Nobility: Baron Otto von Bressendorf and his wife, Baroness Elena, dazzled Richmond entrepreneurs with their ersatz titles. In 1998 the couple was convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.


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