If you’re gonna get by in this life, it helps to have a good gimmick. However, problems can arise when your gimmick edges over into scam territory, which is exactly what happened to Steve Comisar, who came up with one of the funniest cons in recent memory.
So what did he do? Simply put, Comisar put an ad in national magazines advertising a solar-powered clothes dryer for the incredibly low, low price of $49.95.
Thousands of people ignored the old adage “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” and rushed to take Comisar up on his offer. At which point Comisar sent them a clothesline, claiming it was a “scientifically proven, space-age clothes dryer.”
Let’s backtrack a little and do a quick inventory of Comisar’s history. Born in 1961, he grew up in Beverly Hills, which is probably a pretty good place to learn about cons given how weird California can get every now and then.
Whatever he learned about hustles growing up, Comisar quickly put it to good use. He had a string of arrests that started in 1983 for a variety of crimes, with all of the trials taking place in Los Angeles.
The clothesline hustle wasn’t the only one that gained notoriety for Comisar. In 1999, he was arrested for swindling investors who bought into a fake TV quiz show involving former pro football star Joe Namath, who’s now busy hustling old people in Medicaid commercials.
It Gets Better
Comisar used the name Brett Champion when he worked his cons, and no angle was too sleazy, imposing or intimidating for him.
After “retiring” from his career as a con man, Comisar resurfaced as a fraud protection consultant, and he used his status as an “expert” to appear in legitimate TV shows like Dateline NBC, The View, and other prominent talk shows.
Ironically, the clothesline hustle story broke just as he was scheduled to be released from prison, which seems strangely appropriate somehow.
Back in the News
You’d think a guy like Comisar would have the good sense to fade after his infamous history, but you’d be wrong if you thought that. The man is something of a quote machine as well. When asked if it was time to get a regular job, his response was simple: “You don’t hitch a racehorse to a plow.”
There’s always another hustle for guys like Comisar, and his current ploy is trying to sell his story to Hollywood. He does have something of a career as an actor, having appeared in TV shows, movies and commercials as a teenager.
We’re living in the golden age of cons and scams, and this is a man who wrote a bestselling book called “America’s Guide to Fraud Prevention,” although he’s now legally prevented from referring to himself as a fraud prevention expert.
As he hustles his story, Comisar is working an ancillary con. He’s cashing in his 2.6 million Marriott Hotel points in exchange for Starbucks gift certificates worth $25 each and handing them out to homeless people in LA. At least he’s not charging them extra for the cups they’ll be using to beg for change once he’s sold his story.