A man named Vincent Kosuga scammed the city of Chicago out of millions of these.
Vincent Kosuga was an onion farmer in the 1950’s. His 5,000 acre farm was pretty successful. However, Vincent wasn’t content with just the onions… he wanted money. So he started trading on the stock exchange using his onions as the commodity. He knew that he could sell onion futures because they’re harvested at a few specific times of the year. He would wait till his crop was ready and make big deals for the best prices.
Again, he wasn’t content. In 1954, Vince bribed a weather official to issue a severe frost warning. People panicked and onion prices went sky-high. He was suddenly a millionaire. The next year, he partnered up with a guy that owned a cold storage facility. Together, they schemed to buy 98% of the onions in the Chicago area, about 30 million pounds worth.
This meant they could control onion prices all over; if they wanted to drive the price up, they just held on to their onions. They would sell their onions for a huge profit and then flood the market with onions to crush the other farmers. This went on till 1958 when the government enacted the Onion Futures Act which prevented buying and selling onions on the stock market.