In times of global economic turmoil and meltdowns the story of the confidence man has thrived and as if people “like the gold fish” are unable to learn, they continue to fall prey to these schemes. The success of a good con man is never about how much intelligent he is but it is about integrity. This makes even the smartest of people very gullible since they consider integrity and confidence to be a virtue. In fact most of the times smart people are an easy catch than the dumber people because smart people are quick to understand the highlights of how something can advantage them but dump people are not easy to convince, you need more time to convince them as they are dogmatic by nature and take time to see the light on how some scheme or venture is of benefit to them. The less intelligent are always suspicious by nature.

Con men are individuals who have mastered the psychology and strategies of persuasion and always radiate influence. Many assume that con men are just mere smooth talkers and bank on their oratory gift but the opposite is sometimes true: they bond with others by listening.  A book on human hacking talks about how these con masters pay attention to every detail you are saying and they repeat what you said in their own words. This gives an impression that you are the one in control of the game yet you are already being manipulated. They never interrupt a mark when talking. Being a good listener will make the mark to immediately trust them even without their consent. So effective listening is used by con men to bond and well the next thing is they suggest a business idea that sounds like it is what you need. So people will easily trust a stranger with lots of money just because of their good listening skills, and they just disappear with the money in thin air.

These individuals are called “confidence men” for a reason. The con men work by gaining your confidence and exploiting an individual’s trust. These are fearless individuals and usually do not consider the downside of failure by being too cautious. They roll around in big vehicles like Chryslers and German exotics like BMWs and Mercedes Benz. Victims will automatically want to associate themselves with such high profile people who always say “there is a secret behind my success” and are more than willing to induct the mark “because they have potential to become the next best thing”. Confidence real or faked is an extremely powerful tool and people like Frank Abagnale have flown aeroplanes at first attempt just because of confidence. He sat in the cockpit of a giant 747 and said he was a pilot then just put the Boeing monster in auto pilot and prayed it worked. That’s extreme confidence. While some are afraid to ask their boss just for a raise, others are flying aeroplanes. Con men dress sharp and are smart so that your first impression of them is of an elite professional who would never con you of a mere $ 500 because they look like millionaires to you. They will say “my friend this deal is for your benefit”, “take it or leave it how dare you think I will disappear with $ 500 when I run a million dollar organization”. Their dressing always projects and reconfirms their words until you call them and you find they are no longer reachable.

The problem is that most people try to convince others who they are by facts, but con men know that social proof is a more powerful tool. They do the simple things that project trustworthiness like affiliating with impressive institutions, printing fake business cards and dressing the part. What if I were a doctor? Not a real doctor obviously but then what if you saw me driving out of a GL Class with a stethoscope, a lab coat printed medical solutions and expensive like spectacles. You would definitely assume I am a man of means. You would never expect me to be a check swindler, would you? I could walk into the finest hotels, banks and businesses to make baseless proposals and be admired by many. People would flock to invest in my idea(s ) because I am a man of means and because I succeeded I might also help you succeed. Con men go to these extends because they know the average man is impressed by sight and judges a book by the cover.

Research is also essential in any con. The hard-nosed robber who is intelligent depends on facts but when push comes to shove in the end he will depend on his gun, but the brain is the only con artist’s weapon. A robber who wants to rob a gold investor will look for facts like what car does the mark drive, what time is he accessible and what does he look like and the amount of cash he carries on him etc but the con artist is not concerned about all that nonsense. They take time to research more about gold, the market forces, the mines and tonnage. People have been tricked into investing millions of dollars by a con taking gold dust and spreading it to give the appearance of a rich ore about 500 m below the ground making it seem as if there is a belt. This is called salting the mine. They then make a solid business plan and approach an investor with a registered company name and papers asking for partnership. When the investor looks at the potential because of the planted gold dust they pump a lot of money into the investment because they see the sight and they see the gold. The next thing is that they will still see the sight but no one in sight. They have just lost millions of dollars.

There is also what is called the gold brick scam and this involves selling a product for more than it is worth. Con men will coat lead with gold making it look like a real gold brick and sell the lead for a value that is a thousand times more than its value.

There is also the badger game which is normally played on married people. The mark, a married man or woman, is coerced into a suspicious and compromising position in which photos and videos are taken then shown to them and the con will threaten to expose the information to the public or to the spouse unless black mail money is paid.

The other trick is the lost and found trick. This is where someone loses a valuable item or even a glass eye and says the reward for anyone finding it is say $10 000 and even advertises that. Someone who has the item then comes to you asking if you have dropped it or if you know the owner. Your automatic reaction is shock because you know it is worth a lot of money and you will pay the bearer even $ 2 000 because you will collect $10 000 in the end. But truth is after you pay that’s it. No one will get the $10 000. 

Be wise, do not fall victim to con men. 

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