Episode 73: Union Bu$ter/The Fool's Gold

Case File

Union Bu$ter

The Sandhogs Local 147, a New York City construction union, whose workers build tunnels and underground passageways, entrusts Melissa King for overseeing union benefits to ensure their retirements. Instead, King uses the workers funds to cut herself checks to the tune of $42 million. The union workers unwittingly foot the bill for King's household staff of maids, security guards and a personal chef. She racks up a $7 million American Express bill and buys her daughter's way into the high-end world of equestrian jumping – spending nearly $5 million on horses and horse-related expenses. The union finds out, but not before many of its members see their accounts reduced by $50,000 to $80,000 and are forced to return to the tunnels to continue working during their golden years.

The Fool's Gold

Carl Estep is a smooth-talking ladies-man who looks for love and money, all to fund his phony gold scheme. The Montana conman spins tales of riches saying that he has hundreds of 55 gallon drums filled with 'gold concentrate' and all he needs is cash to pay for refining the gold ore to make millions. But the only thing in those drums is dirt. When one lovelorn retired investor, we call "Valerie," loses $220,000 to his scam she informs the FBI and wears a wire to so the feds can see him in action. "Valerie" who thought she met 'Mr. Right' and wanted that money to fund her retirement now finds herself back at work with her savings gone wanting revenge.


  • Living High on the 'Hogs  Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013 | 12:00 AM ET

    Melissa King feeds her insatiable spending habits by embezzling millions from the New York Sandhog Union's retirement fund she was entrusted to protect. Her security guard, Richard O'Keefe sees the extravagance firsthand.

  • Who Are the Sandhogs?  Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013 | 12:00 AM ET

    The Sandhogs Local 147 is a New York construction union whose workers build tunnels and underground passageways. Watch them in action here.

  • Beware of the Man with the Silver Tongue  Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013 | 12:00 AM ET

    Carl Estep is a smooth-talking ladies-man who looks for love and money, all to fund his phony gold scheme. "Valerie" thought she found 'Mr. Right' until she met him in person ...


  • No Happy Hour Allowed  Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013 | 12:00 AM ET

    Rich O'Keefe explains how Melissa King kept her employees from finding out about her scam.

  • FBI Sting Operation  Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013 | 12:00 AM ET

    FBI undercover video of Carl Estep's pitch to investors.

  • Horses Purchased by Melissa King With Local 147 Funds Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 | 3:55 PM ET

    Melissa King is believed to have spent more than $5 million on her and her daughter's love of horses. Here are some of the horses she bought using Local 147 funds.

  • Estep's Fake Assay Used to Defraud Investors Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 | 3:53 PM ET

    Carl Estep convinced many investors his barrels contained rich concentrated ore using this assay, which investigators later determined to be fake.

American Greed Showtimes

Windy City Wipeout/ Miami Burn- AG #74
Wednesday, August 27th 8pm ET/PT
Union Bu$ter/ the Fool’s Gold- AG #73
Wednesday, August 27th 9pm ET/PT
The Mormon Madoff- AG #63
Wednesday, August 27th 10pm ET/PT
Deadly Payout- AG #71
Wednesday, August 27th 11pm ET/PT
The Wealth Builder Club- AG #69
Wednesday, August 27th 12am ET/PT
Talk Radio Takedown- AG #76
Wednesday, August 27th 1am ET/PT
Don't miss any "American Greed" episodes. Check the U.S. TV schedule for additional showtimes.