George Santos: The Greatest Scam Artist in American History

Contributing writer Jeb Allen ’27 traces George Santos’ history of disinformation and argues that Americans must be more skeptical of political narratives.

George Santos: The Greatest Scam Artist in American History
George Santos has lied about seemingly anything and everything. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

While Bernie Madoff and Jordan Belfort might be considered  some of the greatest con artists of all time, George Santos is in an entirely different league. Santos, the former Republican representative for New York’s third congressional district, is the sixth representative voted out of the House of Representatives in the nation’s history — three of these expulsions occurred during 1861 due to disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. While Santos’ expulsion is primarily a result of campaign finance violations and wire fraud, I will be focusing on a few of his absurd lies and how he was able to land a seat in the House. What will most likely go down as one of the most impressive dupes in American history is a result of two factors: the dead-heat congressional landscape of 2022 and the naivete of modern voters. The election did not only demonstrate the measures individuals will go to gain power and maintain it, but also the danger of evaluating politicians and the government without a fair amount of skepticism. The election of George Santos is the perfect example of how politicians manipulate catastrophes to their advantage, how the media fails the American people, and how susceptible modern American voters are to politicians’ lies. Throughout this article, I will break down how Santos was elected  and give my feedback on how this characterizes our country today.

Santos’ Education and Manipulation of the 2008 Financial Crisis

Santos’ lies began as early as his schooling. Santos first claimed to have graduated from Horace Mann, an elite prep school in New York, before asserting that he did not graduate from Horace Mann because of financial troubles during the 2008 housing market collapse. Yet, a spokesperson for the school eventually clarified that Santos had never stepped foot in the halls of Horace Mann, let alone attend for years . Santos also flaunted a stellar 3.89 GPA from Baruch College, which he eventually admitted he never attended. Funny enough, Santos even went as far to claim to be the star volleyball player for Baruch and “slaying” teams such as Yale and Harvard, while these games never occurred. Following Baruch, Santos claimed an MBA from NYU, which was unsurprisingly also a lie. The only form of education Santos has to his name is a high school equivalency diploma, also known as a GED.

Santos Being “Jew-ish,” Lying About the Holocaust, and the Ukrainian War

Besides his academic lies, Santos has lied about his “Jewish” heritage in a pretty revolting manner. Santos initially claimed that his mother was the descendant of refugees who fled Nazi persecution, but could produce no evidence because of the war in Ukraine. Ironically, with modern websites, such as, documentation from hospitals is no longer needed to determine lineage, which is exactly what happened: MyHeritage, Geneanet, and FamilySearch all disputed claims of Santos having Jewish ancestry. This is when Santos pitifully stated, “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.” This almost seems like the punchline of some meme, but it’s true: A U.S. congressman used the Holocaust to sympathize with voters, used the Ukrainian war as an excuse for why he couldn’t prove his ancestry, and then claimed that he was not Jewish but rather ‘Jew-ish’ once caught in his lie — and was still elected.


In addition to his schooling and heritage, Santos’ lies over his employment were laughable as well. While Santos claimed to work for Goldman Sachs, a premier Wall Street investment bank in New York, the bank claimed no record of Santos working for them. Even more amusingly, Santos claimed to have worked for Citigroup, another prominent Wall Street firm, from 2011 to 2014 as an “associate asset manager,” yet Citigroup sold off its asset management group in 2005. While Santos lied about his major employment, he once told his roommate in New York that he had worked for New York Fashion Week and would be appearing in Vogue’s upcoming magazine. He also told his donors that he helped Micheal Cohl produce Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — a new level of absurdity, even for Santos.

His Lies about 9/11 and the Orlando Pulse Nightclub

While we have seen Santos fabricate details of his life around catastrophes such as the Ukrainian war, Holocaust, and 2008 financial crisis, he has also used 9/11 and his mother’s death to harvest misinformed sympathy. Although his mother didn't pass away until 2016, Santos claims both on X (formerly Twitter) and his 2022 Campaign website that she was in the South Tower on the day of the attacks and heavily insinuates her death was a direct consequence. Media investigations uncovered that Santos’ mother’s 2003 visa application proved she had not been in the United States since 1999. To make matters worse, Santos received “significant funds” from a local Catholic church for the funeral and set up a GoFundMe for his mother’s funeral service. The funeral home later asserted that they never received the approximately $6,000 payment for the service. Notably, Santos had a prior scandal involving the misappropriation of $3,000 from a GoFundMe intended for life-saving medical care for a veteran’s dog dying of cancer. While Santos’ mother may have indeed passed away from the terrorist attacks 15 years later, it is more likely that he is a pathological liar who once again used a catastrophe to gain sympathy from uninformed voters.

In addition, during an interview leading up to the 2022 congressional election, Santos claimed that four of his employees died in the Pulse Orlando shooting; therefore, he had “tragic memories” of the event. The New York Times soon found that none of the victims had any relation to Santos. Then, he rebutted that the four victims were actually “in the process of being hired.” There is no line Santos won’t cross to uphold his web of lies and gain sympathy from unsuspecting voters.

How Santos Was Elected and What We Must Change as a Country

You might be wondering how on earth this guy got elected into Congress. It’s pretty straightforward: When the Republican Party realized the “2022 red wave” was most likely not coming, ensuring victories in every tightly-contested race became critical. Therefore, Republican Party heads and donors ignored the obvious asterisks on Santos’ resume and supported him as the candidate for New York’s third district. While plenty of influential personnel in the New York Republican scene raised concerns about the legitimacy of Santos’ resume, the county Republican committee endorsed him once he and his PACs donated $185,000. Following the committee’s endorsement, the Republican Party secured a congressional victory on election day only to get shelled by the national media weeks later. In an attempt to get a “win,” the Republican Party put up arguably the most unqualified, fraudulent, and embarrassing candidate in the history of the United States. This election will prove to be a stain on the Republican Party for years to come and on the media’s ability to accurately cover races.

While I hope you found comedic relief in what I believe to be the greatest scam of our time, it exposes significant flaws in our country and our national attitude toward politicians. Santos is undoubtedly a generational dirtbag, yet he’s just one of the few politicians whose lies were so egregious that he was eventually caught. Due to the many scandals, briberies, and cover-up attempts we routinely see from politicians, we can assume that much goes on under our noses without us knowing, so we must re-entrench ourselves in political skepticism. Throughout American history, until recently, skepticism of politicians and the government has been a core American pastime, but through charismatic politicians, and corrupt media, we have become accustomed to trusting the government without question. In 1986, U.S. President Ronald Reagan stated, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” In 2021, the U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris, stated, “Help is here. Hope is here,” regarding her and President Biden. The day Americans delegate their hope to politicians rather than themselves is the day America dies.

The New York and national media failed the American people through their failure to fact-check Santos’ backstory. His election should be a cautionary tale for what happens when we unquestioningly trust mass media rather than doing our own research. While it might not be as “fun” as getting plastered in some bar, it is your duty as a citizen to your country and fellow citizens to relentlessly question authority. Politics affects your friends, your family, and yourself, so by remaining politically ignorant, you are deliberately harming all three. As The Washington Post slogan states, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” and I am afraid that’s what’s happening. As responsible citizens in 2024, we must step up and perform the oversight job that is currently lacking.