Lightning doesn’t usually strike in the same place twice. It *can* happen… a grifter once sold the Eiffel Tower twice over… but Joshua Harris’ experience is more typical.
‘I kissed dating goodbye’ author Josh Harris offering ‘deconstruction’ class on Christianity for $275
By Michael Gryboski, 13 August 2021
Josh Harris, the author of the bestselling book Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye, who later renounced both Christianity and purity culture, has announced that he’s overseeing an online class on deconstructing religious beliefs.
In an announcement posted on Instagram Thursday, Harris said he’s teaching a five-week live online course titled, “Reframe Your Story” that costs $275 to enroll.
Playing us for chumps was so easy that he returned to the scene of his crimes. This is a common behavior for crooks of all kinds.
Harris explained that people “harmed by my past work and by purity culture in general” can take the course for free, as well as “anyone who can’t afford it.”
Oops. I’m not even a con man and I know to not make your fraudulent product available for free, least of all to the people harmed by your last fraud. That Eiffel Tower scam? It only worked because the guy recruited a different mark the second time.
In the mid-1920s, the Eiffel Tower had just lost its main protector and promoter: Gustave Eiffel, who died in 1923. Lustig read in the press about the monument’s declining financial viability due to expensive maintenance and declining attendance, and developed an almost “plausible” scenario in which the Tower’s owner, the City of Paris, was planning to close and dismantle the Tower and sell it for scrap metal.
Of course, this was far from true! Gustave Eiffel had been guaranteed of the Tower’s continued sustainability in the 1910s, not only because of its iconic status since the 1889 World’s Fair, but also based on its strategic position as radio transmitter and receiver.
[“Count” Victor Lustig’s] plan was flawlessly crafted, he pretended to be a high-ranking Parisian civil servant, even going so far as to write bogus official letters to scrap metal companies arranging meetings.
Scrap dealer André Poisson took the bait and showed up for an auction with other potential buyers, who were in fact Lustig’s accomplices. He thought he had purchased the 7,300 tons of iron from the Tower for an unknown sum! And he didn’t realize that he’d been duped until it was too late, and he had already paid for it. The buyer was so embarrassed that he didn’t press charges against the con artist, who had fled to Austria.
Some time later, Lustig tried to sell the Tower again, but this time with less luck. He was again forced to leave France. Exiled to the United States, he continued his rackets, cheating dozens of victims before being arrested and imprisoned in 1935. He died in 1947 at the infamous federal prison, Alcatraz.
We still don’t know Lustig’s real name. Only 47 of his fake names. Even today’s con men suck compared to the master sharks of the Roaring Twenties.
UPDATE: Aug. 14 at 12:35 p.m. EDT: Josh Harris announced that after receiving feedback about his course, Reframe Your Story, he’s decided to “pull the course.” In a statement on his website, he explained that he’d “hoped I could use my platform to spotlight other people with more experience and expertise, point people to good resources, and offer questions to help people unpack and make sense of their own journey. But I recognize this approach is flawed. I want to explore different ways to lift up other voices.”
One day later. That didn’t last long. Let me pad this out with some linked tweets by writer Ian Harber.
“Megachurches profit off you by controlling you with fear! Buy my online course for just $275 to break free of their restrictive rules.”
“Capitalism exploits the vulnerable! Buy my online course for just $275 to learn how to become a revolutionary and overthrow the ruling class.”
“Churches are abusive cults that brainwash you! Come to our event that is totally not toxic and is completely different for just $275.”
“No one can tell you how to deconstruct your faith! There’s no right way! It’s YOUR journey! I can show you how to deconstruct in my new signature 5-week online course for just $275.”
And runner-up Adam Morris, replying to @ianharber:
The grift that keeps on grifting.
Nah, I think his grifter broke. This is probably the last we’ll ever hear of him.