Monday, June 23, 2008

Con Men Specialty: How to Become a Dumpster Diver--Make a Fortune

--New Skill Developed by Con Men Leads to Treasures in Truck and Trash

If at first you don't succeed, try something else. Go for it. Big. Moderation is said to be for Monks.

Want to become one of the more skilled of con men? Make a fortune? Here's your chance to start at the bottom (pun intended), and learn this new trade from the ground up. This shortest of short-cuts to learning the basics of becoming a con man--through dumpster diving--has many advantages. Everything you need for identity theft--to construct a new identity, that is--is usually right there, all in one place, in a large apartment or condo dumpster. Often it's just plain garbage that is a pot of gold for con men.

What would you be looking for?

Addresses, account numbers, birth dates, email addresses, names, passwords, PINS, phone numbers, signatures, social security numbers. Yes, the search is extensive. There's no such thing as a "short" beer.

And, these would be the specific items you'd want to find:

> ATM receipts
> Address labels from magazines and
junk mail.

(You can't expect to hit the jackpot if you don't put a few nickels in the machine.)

> Bank statements
> Birth certificate copies
> Canceled and voided checks
> Credit and charge card bills, carbons
> Summaries, receipts, bills
> Credit reports and histories
> Employee pay stubs
> Employer records
> Expired credit and identification cards
of all types

(If there is only one way to spell a name, you will spell it wrong anyway. So, you may as well verify everything.)

> Expired visas and passports
> Insurance policies and forms
> Any paper with a social security number
> Credit card applications, pre-approved
> Resumes
> Report cards
> Leases, contracts, letters, any document
with signatures

(Follow Denniston's Law:: Virtue is its own punishment.)

> Transcripts
> Travel itineraries
> Used airline tickets
> Utility bills

Life is hard; then you're not here.
As you can clearly see, then, this avenue can propel you into a lucrative, memorable new career while you still do enjoy time on Mother Earth. Here are some further tips on how to work more efficiently, and how to enjoy yourself while at work in your new occupation.

> In many jurisdictions trash is not considered private property. So, you wouldn't even be breaking any laws by diving and laying claim to all your new treasures. It should be obvious that money takes the sting out of being poor. Check out local laws in your area, though, to be sure. Check with the people at city hall. But, remember, a skunk is better company than someone who prides herself on being "frank."

> Dive around apartment complexes and condos the night before trash pickups. Your "finds" will be the most rewarding at this time. These are Lottery Winner nights for the Dumpster Diver. (The reason you should treat every day as your last is one day you will be right.)

> During your searches do not throw out garbage as you go, strew bits and pieces everywhere, around the dumpster. Be neat, orderly. You do not want to attract attention to yourself. And, you do not want to give dumpster diving a bad name.

> The 7th of the month is a good day for diving in planned communities in some areas, because those tenants who have not paid their rent for the month previous will face eviction on the 8th. Many will feel pushed,, and toss things out just prior to splitting. You would be like the vulture, picking at a carcas, remember, they like fresh meat too.

> Wear sturdy fabric such as denim and good gloves.. You must develop a case of deep-fried amnesia about dirt and "filth."

> Assumption is the mother of all foul ups. If people are around, wait a while before diving. While usually legal, your occupation is not considered socially acceptable in many quarters,, and may lead to needless confrontation. Never insult an alligator until after you've crossed the river.

> It's said that no man is lonely while eating spaghetti. To fully enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Bring along plenty of plastic bags to house your found goodies, and a stepping stool or sturdy box to stand on to peer down from and relish your treasures. You will often be amazed at what is thrown away. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

> Sunday night is grocery night, if you wish a snack while diving--or to acquire groceries to take home. You must set aside this night for diving behind restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. This is the time that dumpsters get filled with the weekend trash. Much of the expired stuff gets dumped on this day of the week.
Why does so much good stuff get dumped?
Remember Freeman's Law: Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.

> To keep from being bothered or harassed, wear a white butcher's smock, which makes you look like an employee.
This will minimize any scrutiny that would normally be aimed your way. Never underestsimate the impotence of naive people in groups.

> Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at. If, for some reason you don't want to climb into the dumpster, use a cheap set of long-handled fireplace log tongs. Follow the first Rule of Mechanics: If it works, don't fix it.

> It's always darkest before you open your eyes. A miner's cap with a light embedded in it can be useful. (But, be careful to not wear a miner's cap with your butcher's smock; this may convey an image of you as a mindless crackpot.) If not, a flashlight for nighttime diving is essential.

> Before entering a dumpster, always tap loudly on the sides with your fireplace log tongs or a long stick. Purpose of this is to arouse any weasels, possums, or rats-- roust them to the top of the debris so you can shoo them off before jumping in yourself.

Remember, you are not drunk if you pass out on the floor without hanging on. You may have to rationalize your plight somewhat along this line if you are to stomach entering the con man profession through this avenue.


Terry said...

It's said that no man is lonely while eating spaghetti. Ha. That does it for me...I don't even know what it means but it really hits my funny bone.

Anonymous said...

I have a butcher's smock. An uncle left it once when visiting. He died shortly thereafter, and its still hanging in my closet. So it looks like I am halfway there to becoming a dumpster diver. Now all I have to do is get me a miner's cap and I am all set.

Dolcett said...

I thought it was mostly the homeless that rummaged through garbage for something to eat. You learn something new all the time.

Terry said...

The big thing I liked so much about your book Jack, is that your protagonist Steve Draves was a legal con me that's the ultimate con man, a guy who doesn't even risk going to jail. You seem to be hinting in this direction in this piece...would like to see more of the legal side.

Jack Payne said...

Naw, Dolcett, it's not just the homeless and con artist "runners." A lot of dumpster divers dive for metals, and, to a lesser extent electronics products.
It's a big business. If somebody like Anonymous wanted to don that buthcer's apron and dive in, rich rewards would await.

Jack Payne said...

Terry, coming up with examples of "legal" crime is one of the biggest challenges any writer could face. When writing my book, Six Hours Past Thursday, this was, by far, my biggest challenge: How to compile all of those cases of "legal" crime--not the usual, conventional illegal con jobs--but "legal" crime.

I'll try to come up with more examples of the strictly legal stuff. But, don't hold your breath.

RecycleCindy said...

Your post reminded me why it is so important to shred everything with any personal information on it. That way it never ends up in the dumpster.

Ione Hesber said...

A man sold a lot of good products to people around town. Turns out they all came out of dumpsters. He built a house with his profits. You just never know.

Warmer said...

I don't know about others but I know I have now been more conscious about what I throw out now that so many stories are about concerning all the dumpster diving going on. I have been much more careful and it's paid off for me. Maybe something good will come out of all this.

RainforestRobin said...

Dear Jack, this is the wildest most hysterical piece you've ever written I howled through this whole post. I know it's also true but the way you wrote it is priceless. I laughed over so many lines here. Loved: "Check out local laws in your area, though, to be sure." AND the one about wearing touch fabric. Oh gawd, Jack you are an amazingly witty writer. You're the best! I was exhausted before I read this (from working too long) and now I feel so lighthearted! I needed that. Thanks! Robin

Darla C said...

I agree with Robin. I read this an hour ago and haven't stopped laughing yet. Best line to me was the one about shooing off the weasels, possums, and rats before jumping in.

Warren M said...

There was a big story in our local paper a while ago about a kid who found a valuable coin collection while dumpster diving, which later sold at auction for $22,000. Who knows what you're going to find?

Barry said...

This is great! Dumpster diving is great for investigations too!

Ariel J said...

I once worked for a consultant to investigative agencies. He always pressed dumpster diving as an important investigative tool. Barry is right.

Maria said...

I need to hear this advice oer an oer again! I am starting to be more careful, but still have a long way to go. Thanks for all the great advice in your blog!

Earl T. Clydson said...

It would appear that dumpster diving can be rewarding in a number of ways beyond con artist activities. I find this most interesting. I had never thought of the many ways.

Jack Payne said...

Sad to say that it's necessary, Cindy, but shredding is "in."

Enough to buy a house, Ione? Remarkable.

I keep trying to restrain my warped sense of humor, Robin and Darla, but, I dunno. It keeps coming out.

Jack Payne said...

A $22,000 coin collection, Warren? You sure gotta wonder, don't you, what kind of crazy fool would throw away something as valuable as this?

Thanks for pointing out the (legitimate) investigative side to dumpster diving, Barry. I agree with Ariel on this, all the way. Justice in reverse: what works for the con artist, should also work equally well for law enforcement.

Jack Payne said...

Marla and Earl, while I wrote this piece strictly from the standpoint of the con man, I see there are many other benefits. This is very educational stuff, methinks, all the way around.

Gene Kranik said...

Credit reports and histories are the most valuable things you can pick out of dumpsters. I can't understand why so many people could be so careless in throwing these out.

Dee said...

This really focuses our attention on being careful when we throw stuff out. Conning has become such a shrewed and hi-tech job now that I'm wondering if I should burn all my garbage.

Bobby said...

A fantastic post Jack! I guess I'd better get my clothes ready for July 7th...haha! I stumbled this post:)


How do you do it? You are hysterical and have a wonderful style of writing! I enjoyed your tips but think I will pass on the Dumpster Diver profession for now. Also, will keep on eye on what I put in my trash!!! Thanks

Anonymous said...

Jack who would have even thought of becoming a dumpster diver. A sad truth though and what a way to make a living for free.

Excellent writer and enjoyable reading. Going to submit some of your articles to Reditt cause they are like so great.

Picking thru trash here is against the law as is removing items from the dump. (new blog)

Jims Varkey said...

I wrote a review of your blog, check it out.And no offense intended. ;-)

Bern said...

I would think it would be statements and summaries of all kinds that would be the most dangerous to just toss out. I talked to my mother about this subject after reading this, and asked how she handled hers. She said just tossed them out. I got a lot of work to do.

Vance Cordy said...

I thought throwing out whole credit cards was a well-known taboo. Dont't these people have scissors?

Jack Payne said...

Credit reports and histories are certainly valuable, Gene, but no more so, I don't believe, than most of the other items on my list.

Burning, as garbage, would sure be an efficient answer, Dee.
In the U.S. though, with all the environmental considerations, you gotta be careful about ordinances and permits.

Thanks for the Stumble, Bobby. Much appreciated.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks for the compliment, Heidi, and, I'm glad to hear that you are restraining yourself from becoming a Dumpster Diver.

Wendy, I surely appreciate the Reditt.
And, as you have much good stuff on your blog--the new blog sticks out--I, too, look forward to voting you on a number of social networking sites.

Couldn't see the review, Jim. The URL didn't work. But, thanks for putting in the time and effort. Maybe I'll get to see it, if I can think of another way.

Jack Payne said...

Yes, Bern, it's amazing, how many people don't bother with a shredder, or even a scissors, but throw whole documents out, crumpled up, at the most. I even know one who, even though she has a shredder, admitted to me that she doesn't use it. Go figure.

You've got it, Vance. There's a lot of evidence that even credit cards are tossed--whole. I guess a lot of folks figure, if it's expired this is O.K.
When WILL they learn.

Terry said...

You've got more funny lines in this one than ever Jack. I counted about ten of them that really made me laugh. Hard to find a favorite, but I sure do love this one. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. That one in particular really broke me up.

SBT said...

This is an extremely serious issue (particularly where I live up in Vancouver, Canada, the fraud and identity theft capital of the world). An ex boyfriend of mine recently was the victim of identity theft, and I wouldn't doubt that the source of the security breach was the vast quantity of his mail that I had been throwing away for three years because he refused to put in a change of address form.

What a lot of people don't understand is that it's not just the things with every piece of information on them that are risky in the wrong hands; fraudsters are patient - they collect one piece from here, one from there and before you know it they have a full profile.

Also, it's good to remember that when police bust fraud rings, the perpetrators are often in possession of very old materials that they are waiting to use. So criminals could use materials they've stolen or skimmed from you years earlier.

L. Indee said...

Big amount of correct information we need.

McAlee said...

I believe job resumes would be about the best capsule wrap-up of a person for identity theft purposes. A young boy in my neighborhood found one in a dumpster once and showed to to me. A con artists would not need much more information than was on that one sheet of paper.

Kat said...

Wow You make dumpter diving look like an art....good post

Tenny said...

Great story (I was a victim of mail fraud last month and I'm still burning about it!)

I used to "dumpster dive" years ago..I still have some of the items that I found. At that time however, I was looking for things that I could use labels/upcs to send away for refunds/rebates.

Several years ago our city council decided that dumpsters were not attractive and 99% of them have been removed. (and thats why we have plastic bags of junk left on street corners and out in the country)

I'm hoping that Adsense will fill in the missing income that I got from refunding....If only people would click on some of those google ads!

Terry said...

You let a piece of spam slip in, Jack.

Jack Payne said...

Real interesting story, SBT. Thanks for sharing.

Ah, yes, you hit it, McAlee. Job resumes are pure gold to the con man. That's the one document that's "got it all."
I'm working on a piece on job resumes that will be up soon.

Jack Payne said...

You are, oh, so observing, Terry. You are correct. Lazy eyeballs. A piece of SPAM did get in. No live links though. Just ignore.

Lynn said...

This makes me paranoid...I don't know what to do with my garbage now. How do I know that the con men will not string together my shredded paper?

Swubird said...

Con Man:

Years ago I worked for a major state agency that was responsible for enforcing the environmental and operating regulations related to Sanitary landfills throughout the state. In this endeavor we often visited the landfills to inspect them for compliance. You wouldn't believe some of the personal stuff we found in those sites - all kinds of personal identification information. I guess people thought that if it went to the public dump - it was lost. Nope!

McAlee said...

I think your point on grocery night is most telling, Jack. Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood. That's my favorite line...that's foundational wisdom for the ages.

Jack Payne said...

Yeah, yes, Swu. You highlighted still another group having access to garbage--all the workers, plus the various government agents called in to inspect all this stuff. An angle that, frankly, I hadn't even thought of. Thanks.

Jamie said...

Okay, I don't care how much money I could make by doing so...I'm NOT jumping in any dumpster. I might rummage through the top, but I'm not going in!

As always, great post! You've reminded me why I bought a shredder in the first place.

Anonymous said...

A habit I've developed over the years is never throw out address, bills, receipts... those go all into the fireplace. When I didn't have one they all went into a pail of water and soaked until they were mush and unreadable.

Great post Jack. Goes to show how vulnerable we can be if we are not careful.

Jack Payne said...

Time to start using that shredder, Jamie.

While fire and fireplaces should always be an obvious option, I must admit, J.D., I'd never thought of the simple solution of mushing tell-tale documents in a pale of water. So simple. So effective. Brilliant idea.

Benjamin Kerensa said...

I shred everything to prevent this but I worry about FAKE mock atm machines these days

G. said...

Man why am I even looking for a job; the dumpster is where its at! Informative and funny; this is great stuff.

Terry said...

This thread is getting real long, Jack. Isn't it about time to go on to something else?

Jack Payne said...

Yes, it is, Terry, and, it's time to change. Right now, though, I am caught in this Northern California fire storm, with fires raging aroud my city on 3 sides. The air quality is 700% ABOVE its top danger limit. Hard to breath. So, I've been contemplating going over to Reno, Nevada for a few days (elevation 5,400 feet, well above the fire line), so I can learn to breathe again. If I do this I'm afraid Dumpsters will have to stay up for a while yet.

brielle said...

Gosh I hope I don't get so hungry I ever have to "dive" into restaurant leftovers in the garbage! It's a frightening and sad thought that some do though. Most of us are just one or two paychecks away from being homeless and hungry. Sometimes it's only for the grace of God that we are not in those shoes but a sudden layoff, accident or illness could place any one of us in peril. Best to live each day with goodness, giving to others because we never know when we may be on the receiving end ourselves. Been there; done that.

Carla said...

The whole thing sounds so yeechy. The possibility of rats? Who would ever want to do this? But I guess the lure of big money will be incentive enough for a lot of people.

Outside My Brain said...

Jack, that was very entertaining. You are hilarious. It seems you know quite a bit about the correct times of Dumpster Diving.

What kind of hands on research did you do for this article? And, did you find anything interesting? j/k

Great job! I loved it and will pass it along and help bring you some more traffic.

rebecca said...

Thank goodness I shred everything or burn it. Don't take chances with much of anything that has personal info on it.

Great post!

soulMerlin said...

I was the victim of bank card fraud. Firstly the bank stalled and stalled before they released the missing (stolen) money from my account £300. and even now some 5years later, they put restrictions on my account and even refuse to let paypal transactions I make, go through, without holding them for a time, or as they have done recently, refuse the transaction, even though my account is in good shape.

Yes identity theft is a big problem and expect no sympathy from the banks.

henry (the shredder)

Dr. Rob said...

At the dumptster, then. An uneven playing field to say the least. I'll meet you at the bottom for a duel, Conman, at your request. But I must admit, I'm coming unarmed. At least I might come away with some new treasures. Later.
Got diving practice, now.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Jack, hope not too many from over here read it or we could have a new crime wave! so far 'Dumpster diving' has yet to take off. If it did, it would need to be renamed 'Bin tipping' or 'can diving'. Great read though.

Anonymous said...


What a great talent you have. I think your book- SIX HOURS PAST THURSDAY is a masterpiece. I just finished rereading it for the second time and was even more impressed. I hope your next book is on the way. I'll be checking the Wi. book stores.

Ken G.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Though, the majority of Dumpster Divers are not con man looking for for people's identity documents. I've furnished a whole house with dumpster dived goods. Not to mention the other trinkets I have found that I've sold on e-bay. I am from Reno and they are attempting to ban dumpster diving/trash scavenging here--there was a front page article in the newspaper While curiously this has sparked a counter movement to "Save Reno Dumpster Diving" see Thanks for the article.

Liino said...

what happen if a police man pull me over on my way home and find all this information?

Anonymous said...

Opulently I to but I think the collection should secure more info then it has.

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