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The Methods of Con Artists

written by: •edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 11/13/2008

Con artists are sneaky, underhanded and friendly. This article explains how they find and prepare targets for voluntarily surrendering their money or property.

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    Con artists typically “work” their targets with financial scams, investment scams, Nigerian scams and Ponzi schemes where a transfer typically of sizable funds can be completed. Before a con artist can begin their deception they need to find a target or victim. Targets are found anywhere and everywhere. They can be found at social or business gatherings or through advertisements in any media including email, telemarketing, websites, chatrooms, television, radio or direct mail. Con artists don’t care if they take money from a person who can afford losing money or the life savings from someone who is left penniless. The goal of a con artist is to deceive the target with a little bit of truth and a lot of lies so the target will willingly part with their money or property.

    The deception of the con artist is vicious. They prey on the target’s trust that is gained through lies, half-truths, and persistence. Con artists tell the target what they want to hear when they want to hear it and reinforce the necessity and urgency of whatever imaginary product or service they offer. The target eventually believes that the con artist has their well being and financial security as the number one priority. Many times the con artist features a non-existent employer, boss or manager who has the final say or is the decision maker so the con artist can relate better to the target as both being victims when the money given by the target is no longer around or it wasn’t enough or it decreased substantially in value. This gives the con artist the opportunity to provide paperwork typically in the form of a Power of Attorney, transfer of money or property, or a Letter of Intent signed by the target along with monies to prove to the non-existent “manager” that the target has serious and honorable intentions. The con artist always has an excuse to avoid: conversations with attorneys, accountants and bank representatives; and the target’s concerns about proper licensing and references.

    After a period of time, determined by the con artist for how long the target can wait without rallying support or advice from outside sources, the target receives a little money to keep him or her in the scheme. Typically the con artist tells the target the money is their first profit of much more to come.

    Now the target, seeing the potential in the non-existent product or service, puts more personal monies into the scheme and may even bring in friends or family to share in the successful profits. The con artist has control and the complete trust of the target. So, the con artist applies pressure in the form of other opportunities that must be completed very soon or those opportunities will be lost. Eventually, the con artist formulates a convincing scenario that explains the reason that all the monies surrendered are gone possibly through non-existent expenses or bad investments. In reality, the monies or property surrendered are available to the con artist. The con artist now pursues the next target.