If you are a stock market investor, you may never buy shares in a mining company after reading this. There are so many ingenious and diverse ways to swindle an unsuspecting sucker, from salting a mine with melted silver coins to opening a worthless mine next to a profitable one then stealing their ore and throwing it down a shaft.These days, the SEC frowns on this sort of practice and mining companies have evolved into much bigger entities than those prior to 1900. But the idea of buying a stock for peanuts and then selling it at a huge profit will never lose its allure which explains how a multitude of unsavory crooks have waltzed off with millions in other people's money.It's hard to believe how little regulation once existed for a company to publicly trade shares. A prospectus? Bah, who needs one. A financial statement? Didn't that go out of style with the covered wagon? A highly entertaining look at the (mostly) bygone era of stock manipulation through creative bookkeeping and outright fraud. But you may never deal with a broker who says has he got a hot mining stock ever again.