Flush With Crime: Study Shows Prison a Career Booster
Yet it was all part of his plan to rip them off, according to authorities.
Griggs realized that while the Hawaiian inmates didn't have wads of cash in the bank, many had mortgage-free homes that had been in their families for generations. He convinced the inmates they could get rich quick if they, or their families, took out equity on their properties and handed over the cash to his contact on the outside.
That person was his wife, who would collect the money for him to invest.
The scheme worked from behind bars for years. When Griggs was released from prison in September 2009, he and his wife moved into a high-end home in Las Vegas. Soon enough, like all pyramids, the scheme crumbled.
Eventually, Griggs pleaded guilty to the scam. At sentencing, the judge called him a "serial fraud artist" and one of the most blatant criminals he's seen in 24 years on the bench. He's now serving a 7-year-sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana at a special terrorism unit.
Watch the entire story of Perry Griggs on "American Greed" tonight at 10pm ET/PT on CNBC.