Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How Confident Are You?

The grade of one's "intelligence" is totally unrelated to one's grade of vulnerability to getting deceived by experienced con men. Confidence tricks exploit human weaknesses like greed, dishonesty, vanity, but also virtues like honesty, compassion, or the "naïveté" of believing in the existence of something called "good faith".

Just as there is no typical profile for swindlers, neither is there one for their victims. Virtually anyone can fall prey to fraudulent crimes. Movie actors and athletes, professional persons and successful business executives, political leaders and internationally famous economists have all fallen victim to investment fraud. Certainly victims of high-yield investment frauds may possess a level of greed which exceeds their caution as well as a willingness to believe what they want to believe. However, not all fraud victims are greedy, risk-taking, self-deceptive individuals looking to make a quick dollar. Nor are all fraud victims naive, uneducated, or elderly.

In the case of greed it often happens that the overconfident mark tries to out-cheat the con artist, only to discover that he or she has been manipulated into losing from the very beginning. This is such a general principle in confidence tricks that there is a saying among con men that "you can't cheat an honest man."

However, some tricks depend on the honesty of the victim. In a common scam, as part of an apparently legitimate transaction, the victim is sent a worthless check, which the victim then deposits. The victim is then urged to forward the apparent value of the check to the trickster as cash, which they may do before discovering the check bounces. Another fashionable scenario (as of 2006) has the victim recruited as a "financial agent" to collect "business debts". Paper checks are not always involved: funds may be transferred electronically from another victim.

Sometimes con men rely on naive individuals who put their confidence in get-rich-quick schemes, such as "too good to be true" investments. It may take years for the wider community to discover that such "investment" schemes are bogus, and usually it is too late, as many people have lost their life savings in something they have been convinced to invest in.

-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pigeon Drop

PLAYERS: Two (Usually)

  • The Catch
  • Accomplice

GAME: The Catch approaches the mark and says that he/she has found a package. Once opened, the package appears to contain a large amount of money and a note. This note will indicate the money is the result of illegal activity and is unlikely to be claimed. The catch then asks for advice on what should be done about the money.

Accomplice then appears and is asked by the Catch for assistance. The Accomplice will then claim to work for an attorney ina nearby office. After checking with his attorney, it is announced that they can split the money three ways as long as no one spends any of it for atleast one month. The accomplice then suggests that each of them offer proof of their financial independence. This "good faith" gesture in intended to prove that they won't be tempted to spend the money before the requisite waiting period has expired. Suspects then place what appears to be $5,000 or more of their own money into the "found package." After the victim duplicates this act of "good faith," the package is switched for an identical one containing blank paper.

CON: The accomplice says that the boss must check the found money to verify its authenticity. The victim then accompanies the suspect into the attorney's office building. Once inside, the suspect suddenly has to place a telephone call or use the bathroom. To avoid any suspicion, the victim is given the package said to contain the money. When the suspect fails to return, the victim discovers that the package contains nothing but blank paper.

Short Count

  • Customer


  1. The customer purchases a low-priced item (usually less then a dollar) with a ten-dollar bill.
  2. After the change has been returned the customer says "I don't actually want all this change, im sure you could use it more then I could." He then offers the cashier ten one-dollar bills in exchange for the ten dollar bill he used to make his original purchase.
  3. The customer must now get the cashier to hand over the store's ten dollar note. This can be accomplished by holding onto the money until the cashier offers the ten-dollar bill. The customer then takes the ten-dollar bill while simultaneously handing over the 'ten dollars in change'. What the customer will actually hand over is nine one-dollar bills and a ten-dollar bill, a total of $19.
  4. When the cashier notices that the customer made a mistake, the customer acts surprised and thanks her for catching the error. If the cashier does not catch the intentional blooper, the customer brings it to the cashier's attention saying that he might have made a mistake and would he/she please recount the money. As soon as the cashier is aware she is now holding the $19 instead of $10, the customer immediately says "Here's another dollar to add to the $19 i gave you in exchange for a twenty.
  5. The customer leaves the store with a $10 profit.

note: This process is difficult to grasp after only one reading, but it is this confusion that makes the scam work.

Lost Watch

  • Catch
  • Accomplice


  1. The Catch enters a bar and rudely demands a beer. He then makes straight for the men's room. On his return he complains loudly to the bartender about the state bathroom and abuses him before storming out.
  2. The Accomplice then enters the bar and purchases a drink. Shortly after finishing his drink he will also make a trip to the men's room. On return, he pretends to have found a watch and asks all that are in the bar if anyone has lost it. After no one claims the watch, he puts it in his pocket and leaves the bar.
  3. Later the Catch returns to the bar and once again heads straight for the men's room. Upon return he tells the bartender he has lost a watch and asks if anyone has picked it up. He also tells the bartender that this watch is of great value to him and will offer a thousand dollar reward. The Catch is then interupted by an urgent call and quickly leaves the bar leaving his contact information.
  4. The Accomplice then returns to the bar and approaches the bartender. Thinking of the reward, the bartender offers to take it and return it to its owner. The Accomplice insists he will return it himself, and demands the owner’s address. Thinking he will lose all chance of the reward, the bartender offers a hundred dollars for the watch. The Accomplice bargains him up to $250, and departs. The Catch, of course, can not be found and does not return.