The Con Man Who Scammed People Legally With the Power of Words

Words have incredible power, and those who can chain them skillfully together have the ability to press that button in us that says “do it.” It’s called the art of persuasion. Steve Comisar was one of those people. During the 1990s, solar-energy was one of the buzzwords that allowed the then 38-year-old to come up with a clever way to make money through sales. He put an advertisement in magazines and newspapers for a “solar-powered clothes dryer” for just $49.95. People across the country bought into the idea and sent their money to get this incredible device that would help them cut their electricity bills and dry their clothes efficiently while saving the planet. When the package arrived, they got the disappointment of their lives. There in the package sat a run-of-the-mill clothesline. Angry consumers complained to Comisar, but his response was to tell them that they received exactly what he had advertised — the product was, indeed, a drying device that worked with solar energy. Consumers couldn’t sue because the advertisement was technically true. While Comisar managed to dodge the legal bullet with the clothesline scheme, he was eventually sent to prison for other fraud.