"A lot of people have called me many names: The Great Pretender, The Master of Deception," says 52-year-old Fred Brito. "I think I've pulled off probably 70 cons, an
When Fred was 19,he met comedian Paul Lynde. "He allowed me to live at his home, drive all the fancy cars, hang out with the celebrities. It was the opportunity of a lifetime," Fred remembers. "Then, when it was all taken away, I lost everything. It was so abrupt. It was brutal." He says he continued to live the Hollywood lifestyle by renting expensive cars that he would never return. "I needed the props, and the props were the fancy cars."
Paul says he has served a total of 11 years behind bars, mostly for charges of grand theft auto. After his release, he was homeless, and job applications always asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime. "Every time I checked that box, I would get a letter
Fred has also used multiple aliases. "I've used a combination of 15 different names, and they're all something related to my real name. Fred Brito, Fred DiBrito, Fredrico Esparza, Fredrico Gomez," he says.
His most recent job as a con was his position as the executive director of the Red Cross. "I had just been hired for that role, and a week later [Hurricane] Katrina happened, so we had to rev up our fund-raising apparatus," he recalls. "We were able to raise six million dollars, and then one of my co-workers, for some reason, started to Google my name, and they found out, â€˜
Fred remembers his riskiest con occurred when his friend got caught for marijuana possession. "I walked into superior court as Dr. Mark Esparza, a psychiatrist," he says. "Here I am, talking to the judge just like Perry Mason would, and I'm pleading to the judge to allow my client to not serve time in prison but to come into my custody, and the judge agrees with the idea."
Fred believes that he was a great addition to the companies he conned. "I think that if you went back to any one of these organizations, they will tell you this: â€˜He was good at what he did. He was the best at what he did. The only problem with Fred is that he didn't tell the truth of who he was,'" he says.
"You say this is over in your life, and you want to help people understand how to spot a con man, how not to be duped by someone like yourself," Dr. Phil says to Fred.
Fred explains that during the last five years, since he was fired from the Red Cross, he has not been convicted of any crimes. "I have been actually working in my community trying to make a difference, working with those people who have been released from prison who are trying to find their way through life," he says.
"The fact that you haven't been convicted of a crime in the last five
"A good con is one who is articulate, who is very charismatic, someone who looks straight in your eyes and is able to convince you that he's the best thing since applesauce," Fred says.
"Like you're doing now," Dr. Phil quips.
"Exactly," Fred says, "and I think what has allowed me to get these jobs is that people said, â€˜You know, Fred, it wasn't what you said on paper; it was how you presented yourself at the interview process.'" He admits, "I'm not proud of what I did."
"Oh, I think you are," Dr. Phil interjects. "Let's be honest here. You are pretty proud of what you've done."
"I won't use the word proud. I will say that I did some things that very few people are able to do or have done," Fred says. "I had to survive." He says he only had a few choices for getting by: go to work as the person he was and not get a job, go out and invent himself and become somebody else and earn a living, or go back to prison. "I wasn't about to go back to prison. Those were the only choices I had."