Saturday, April 11, 2009

Who Are the Real Con Artists?

by Ron Wall
rwaldron@stny.rr.com

Persons of any level of intelligence are vulnerable to deception by experienced con artists. Confidence tricks exploit human weaknesses like greed, dishonesty, vanity, but also virtues like honesty, compassion, or a naïve expectation of good faith on the part of the con artist. Just as there is no typical profile for swindlers, neither is there one for their victims. Virtually anyone can fall prey to fraudulent crimes. … 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. A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, or swindle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. Con artists make money through deception. They lie, cheat and fool people into thinking they've happened onto a great deal or some easy money, when ­they're the ones who'll be making money. If that doesn't work, they'll take advantage of our weaknesses -- loneliness, insecurity, poor health or simple ignorance. The only thing more important to a con artist than perfecting a con is perfecting a total lack of conscience. What does the average con artist look like? Despite what you may think, he isn't always a shady-looking character. A con artist is an expert at looking however he needs to look. If the con involves banking or investments, the con artist will wear a snappy suit. If it involves home improvement scams, he'll show up wearing well-worn work clothes. Even the basic assumption that the con is a "he" is incorrect: there are plenty of con women too. It would be impo­ssible to catalogue every con, because con artists are inventive. While many cons are simply variations on ones that are hundreds of years old, new technologies and laws give con artists the opportunity to create original scams. Many cons tend to fall into a few general categories, however: street cons, business cons, Internet cons, health cons and self improvement cons. Tired of working for your money? Cheat the system and cheat other people by becoming a con artist! Scam and swindle your way to the top. Become a preacher, politician, or a used car salesman, you will be well on your way.

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