Gregor MacGregor Invented a Country and Convinced People to Invest in It

A Bank of Poyais "dollar," printed in Scotland. MacGregor bartered these worthless notes to his would-be settlers, taking their real British money in exchange. Wikipedia / Public Domain

When His Serene Highness Gregor the First, Sovereign Prince of the State of Poyais and its Dependencies, and Cacique of the Poyer nation visited London, he made a huge impression. Hundreds of people jumped at the chance to buy land in his remote, Central American paradise. There was only one problem -- the Cacique, whose real name was Gregor Macgregor, made the entire nation up out of thin air in one of history's largest, most audacious (and most ridiculous) scams.