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Extra finesse in confidence trick

currenciesMany con men employ extra tricks to keep the victim from going to the police:

  • Illegal money. A common ploy of investment scammers is to encourage the victim to use money that has been concealed from the tax authorities. The victim cannot go to the authorities without revealing that they have committed tax fraud.
  • Illegal enterprise. Many swindles involve a minor element of crime or some other misdeed. The victim is made to think that they will gain money by helping fraudsters get huge sums out of a country (the classic Nigerian scam). The victim cannot go to the police without revealing that they planned to commit a crime themselves. Similar tricks can be played on people shopping for pirated software, illegal pornographic images, bootleg music, drugs, firearms or other forbidden or controlled goods.
  • Pitiful fraud. The con artist may tell their mark pitiful lies about their family, children, etc therefore the mark feels sorry for them and does not alert the police
  • Family member. Many con artists con on family members because the family would not want to hurt the con man by alerting the police
  • Embarrassing enterprise. If the victim loses a small sum only, they may be unwilling to contact the authorities if the circumstances are embarrassing, e.g. if they would look like an idiot or if their spouse would find out that they paid lots of money to access a website of (worthless or nonexisting) pornographic material.
  • Stolen Cheques. A recent twist on the Nigerian fraud scheme, the mark is told he is helping someone overseas collect “debts” from corporate clients. Large cheques stolen from businesses are mailed to the victim. These cheques are altered to reflect the victim’s name, and the mark is then asked to cash them and transfer all but a percentage of the funds (his commission) to the fraudster. The cheques are often completely genuine, except that the “pay to” information has been expertly changed. This exposes the victim not only to enormous debt when the bank reclaims the money from their account, but also to criminal charges for transacting the forged cheques.

It is to be noted also that the above list is only a sampling. Confidence games are continually evolving and subject to many variations and refinements, as in the following:

Con games never remain stationary. The principle may be old, but the external forms are always changing, for con men know they must adapt their schemes to the times. This is especial true of the Big Con. A good grifter is never satisfied with the form his swindle takes; he studies it constantly to improve it; as he learns more about people, he finds a way to use what he has learned.
— From The Big Con, by David Maurer (Chapter 3)
Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses materials from the Wikipedia.

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