Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Legal Thriller Author Examines 15 Amazing Scam Artists' "Conspiracy Theory" Tricks

--On Squeaky Wheels and Grease! Scam Artists not only Squeak a lot, but Play the Court Jester as They Pick your Pockets.

The best scams are built around conspiracy theories. They afford the ultimate shell game, and read much like a legal thriller novel.

Why?

Because these give the scam artist "cover." They fortify him with an automatic defense against his critics. They exonerate him from past failures. And, importantly, they provide an excuse for future delays, give him time to run for cover when everything collapses. In other words, they create the perfect stage setting from which to operate.

The con man closely follows a sacrosanct principle: Lie in good faith. Whichever tool best enables him to distort, exaggerate, disguise, or confuse is one he wants to add to his tool kit, and, by closely following the "conspiracy theory" approach to his cons, he accomplishes this.

Overall, a well-developed conspiracy theory is a great rallying theme. It blends like minds, mutual resolve, shared purpose, goals. It breeds collective paranoia. There is, therefore, a set of basic rules the scam artist follows in producing this highly-desired atmosphere of "communal harmony" to embellish his "pitch. Accomplishing this enables him to fully exploit his scam in all of its ramifications. Hence, these are those rules-of-the-game he follows, rules to watch for, in order to protect yourself to the fullest.

1. Get your sucker-audience to focus on some elaborate conspiracy, one dedicated to stomping on courageous visionaries like yourself--you, the scam artist, being the one who is able to cut through the enemy's monopoly and use his investors' funds wisely to bestow benefits upon them--earn money, save money, attain awards, merits, fame--never before dreamed possible. If the victims fully subscribe to your hogwash, they will earn Brownie points along the way. Good mind game.

(The con man has a different view of people in general than you might: If you feed a man a fish, you will feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.)

2. Now, get your foot in the door. Light a fire under your sucker-audience. Get them, as a group, so excited that they would be ready to go bear hunting with a stick, should you so command. Talk about your valiant battles with some government bureaucracy or private organization. Get them stomping mad and eager to join you in your crusade against "them."

3. Dispensing learned counsel in rapid-fire bursts, talk bravely about your battles with the bad guys trying to steal, or bury, your ideas. Fearlessly claim that you will shred,
obliterate, destroy your records before you will permit the indignity of allowing these to fall into "their" hands. Whip your flock into a frenzy, figuratively ready to chase a tornado in a convertible with the top down.

4. In addition to your "base" enemy, faceless government agencies of many types also make good whipping boys. These must also be made out to be "the enemy" you must bravely fight. Cite examples of their misdeeds. Cite the Law of Bureaucracy they follow: Nothing is ever accomplished by being reasonable.

5. Don't fear investors who defect. There will always be some. Most will feel they've been suckered, and be too embarrassed to make a lot of noise about their misfortunes (of dealing with you). With the few who will protest too loudly, call them agents of the "Big Conspiracy" operating against you.
("Do you see how they infiltrate?" you will ask of your loyal followers.)

6 Bury all attacks against you in a wave of minutia. Create enough distractions to mesmerize these people, put them to sleep over endless, meaningless detail. Tire them to the point where they will do anything to avert further debate, if only to stay awake. (Here you can well adapt another Law of Bureaucracy, this one to your own advantage: No amount of genius will ever circumvent management's preoccupation with detail.)

7. Freely and frequently threaten your detractors with lawsuits. It will make a high percentage of them run for the tall grass, shut their mouths in fear. To many of your suckers this would be equally as shocking as watching the news on TV and unexpectedly seeing their attorney being accompanied from the court house steps in
handcuffs.

8. Be the true crusader in every way. Stick closely to the Scam Artist's Parable: To thine own self be true, and lie like hell to everyone else. Say you are not in this for the money. Piously proclaim your altruistic intent: to save humanity.

9. Make your pitch to groups of people who have had faith, trust, and American Way values instilled in them from birth. Many groupings of senior citizens, religious types, family farmers fill this bill. These are your primary targets.

10. Among other preferred groups are those already pre-conditioned to accepting conspiracy theories, like those who believe in the Flat Earth Society, in UFO cover-ups, and in JFK assassination plots.

11. Always get your victims to focus on theory and abstractions. When their minds stray from this, fog their attention, get it away from any kind of evidence which can be measured. (This is especially important when trying to pawn off worthless, hi-tech junk.)

12. Be bold, loud. Make your claims and proclamations to all who will hear. People tend to think something so transparently out in the open could not possibly be a fly-by-night operation.

13. Shoot for only a small, initial amount of up-front money. Maybe $69, say, for a tape, DVD, and / or an information kit of some kind.. This, on the premise that, once the sucker has paid a bit of his required dues,, it's easier to squeeze more out.

14. You must get your investors to forfeit their rights to legal action any way you can. Give them a--"ho hum, just routine"-- document to sign. Pull this out from under a pile of documents, as if it is so insignificant it almost got lost. Or, hide your disclaimer in a nondisclosure agreement, in the smallest of small print you can arrange with your printer to crank out. Object being to make your victim think his eyeballs would bleed if he tried to read it.

15. Enlist a small sub-group of the most gullible to help you recruit more suckers. (If you, as a potential participant, pay heed to the urgings of these discombobulated people, it would be like listening to a rap group which could easily be named, Insane Clown Posse.)

It's all a head shaker. Trying to cut through the haze and figure the con man's' psychological approach is much like being forced into making a choice between having double vision and hearing a constant echo. But, it's worth the effort. Once you do sort it out and finally understand how to zero in on all of these traits and mannerisms, the working pattern of the scam artist will be clearly spelled out for you. It is only then that you will be in the best position to protect yourself from any kind of curve ball he will throw your way.

If you'd like to have more self-esteem, but don't think you deserve it, look at it this way: This is a circumstance under which there is never a better time to procrastinate.

34 comments:

Terry said...

This is about the most comprehensive examination of the con man mind that you have come up with yet, Jack...great piece.

Ione Hesber said...

Your point #12 rings a bell. About a year ago a con man and wife came to town, they held several meetings and got people all fired up about a home freezer plan. Then they left town with a pocket full of a lot of people's money. Nobody ever saw a freezer.

Earl T. Clydson said...

Forfeiting your legal rights is not a sole domain of con people, a lot of presumed innocent businesses try this too. They also bury this stuff in the fine print of their contracts. I get sick and tired of having to fight this battle. Great post, it is very enlightening as to the psychological doings of the con artists.

David H. said...

Jack, it sounds like such hard work -- lol

Carol said...

A husband/wife combo swooped through out neighborhood too, a couple of years ago. They also cleaned out many of my neighbors on some wild food freezer plan. I wonder if it was the same couple that Ione is talking about.

Raymond Ossy said...

This post is really impressive. It gets all the way through to the heart of scam artist thinking. Really enjoyed this one, especially the humorous delivery.

Ione Hesber said...

It sounds like the same people, doesn't it Carol?

Jack Payne said...

I don't understand it, Ione and Carol. The home freezer supply business was big way back in the 1950s. It always was a "natural" for con men. I guess now they are cashing in.

Yes, Earl, forfeiting your legal rights is tried in all kinds of sales contracts--legitimate and illegitimate. That's why the constant warnings uttered everywhere: read the fine print.

Thanks, Terry and Raymond. I keep swinging away.

Warren M said...

As each chapter rolled by in reading of your book's hero's exploits I thought I was gaining the ultimate edducation in How to Become a Con Artist. Steve Draves in your Six Hours Past Thursday had to be about the best, every bit as good as Bernie Madoff. This post has a little of that same kind of educational value in it.

Ed's Pie-In-The-Sky said...

It seems these people so often aim at government agencies. They are perfect scapegoats. I think this is funny.

Tantamore said...

Cover is the big thing these scamsters need. And, I can see why it is that conspiracy theories will give them just that.

Terry said...

I would like to have more self-esteem and am working hard on pushing myself into believing I deserve it.

Gene Kranik said...

A big new scam just started recently, seminars on how to cash in on home foreclosures. How do you like that? How to cash in on other people's miseries...beyond disgusting.

Alex Feller said...

I was gone after once, by a sub-group of hi-tech screwballs. These were people that didn't know that I am an IT Manager and had all the technical knowledge I needed to know that their plan was nothing more than a scam. It was easy to stiff arm them and move away to safety.

Bern said...

Whats with this notice I keep getting flashed at me everytime I try to click through to your comments department? Something about not having a security clearance, and it not being recommended that you click through? I've seen this same notice on a bunch of other sites too lately. In your case it seems to be hurting your response. I note that many of your regulars are not present for this post. What are you going to do about this?

Erna S said...

Is this a Google probllem? I am getting this funny message too...also get on a lot of other normal web sites. It's hard to get through to you.

Dolcett said...

I clicked on Go to this Web Site (not recommended). It looks like you have a real problem with Google, Jack. Hope you will resolve it.

Dee said...

Happy Valentine's Day Jack. You know I'm not conning yah.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Warren. I've long thought Six Hours Past Thursday, was, far and away, the best of all my books. A close character study of Steve Draves, my protagonist in the book, will enable anyone to know and understand the con man mind as well as his / her best friend's. I firmly believe this.

Yes, Pie, Government Agencies make about the perfect scapegoat.

Gene, a lot of the foreclose resuce plans are being pushed by con men now pursuing the down-trodden. Look for more of same. Despicable.

A lot of scams going on in IT products and equipment, Alex. Good thing you were so easily able to spot it.

Bern, Erna, and Dolcett, yes, there is a major technical screw up somewhere along the line with Google. I keep running into this very same notice on many other sites too, sites I have visited many times before and know they are straight forward and honorable. But, you know how it goes. About the last thing Google wants to do is have one of their humans engage in direct contact with their customers. They'd much prefer their robots handle everything. So, I'm still trying to figure out how to complain about it.

Jack Payne said...

Good reminder, Dee. Happy Valentine's Day to one and all.

Roy said...

I love the last line of your post here.
"This is a circumstance under which there is never a better time to procrastinate."

Roy

Anna said...

Thanks for your comment. I want to say something important regarding your blog, if you provide me your email id anna.brown21 [at] gmail.com. I am waiting for reply.
"Gosh, I like your idea of 40%-50% off. And, I suspect, in these weak economic times such drastic cuts will be within the realm of reality. (Jack Payne said on February 14, 2009 7:21 PM)”

Swubird said...

Con man:

Check this out. When I was in college I had a class in labor relations that met in the evenings. The instructor was not part of the regular faculty, he just worked part time. Well this guy invested in horror films. That's right, Frankenstein, the Vampires, all the stuff that cames on late at night. He talked about his business at every class meeting. Then, towards the end of the semester he offered all of us a chance to chip in on one of his projects. According to him it was an absolute winner. We could make big bucks. The price of admission to his money making adventure - $5,000 a piece. Yikes! Mind you, this was a trusted member of the adjunct teaching staff.

It may not have been a scam in the true sense that you discuss in your post, but it was creepy just the same. Taking advantage of students has to fall into the con artist category somewhere.

Happy trails.

McAlee said...

You can see why a conspiracy theory can breed collective paranois all right. I was dragged to a meeting recently, and that is exactly what it did.

Self Defense Products said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Syn-chemist said...

The name itself "con man" has some significance (with full knowledge...). great blog. I really enjoy urs..

JD Beaudoin said...

Amazing. Great comprehensive list Jack. It's interesting, recently watched an episode on TV of people being scammed. If they had been regular readers of your blog they would have had there guard up.
Excellent post my friend.
~JD

Ashforth said...

You are right about government agencies being ideal fall guys, Jack. But, I still think Steve Draves in you book is the best con man to follow, one who can adopt to any kind of con game going. And to think, all of his scams were legal. That was the best part of Six Hours Past Thursday...the fact that his scams were all legal with no fear of going to jail. How can any con man beat that?

Jack Payne said...

Procrastination does have its merits too, Roy.

Great story, Swu. Yes, there are a lot of unwitting con men out there too.

Promo of collective paranoia works, McAlee. That's why conspiracy theories are so often tried and used, successfuly.

Thanks, SVN.

Jack Payne said...

Procrastination does have its merits too, Roy.

Great story, Swu. Yes, there are a lot of unwitting con men out there too.

Promo of collective paranoia works, McAlee. That's why conspiracy theories are so often tried and used, successfuly.

Thanks, SVN.

Jack Payne said...

Ride your steed about the countryside, J.D. Clang the bells. Cup your hands. Shout to all who will hear. Spread the word. Read the Con Man's Blog. Will much appreciate your PR assistance.

Ashforth, that was one of the prime motivators that made me write Six Hours Past Thursday. It's "legal" crime which is so pervasive--that kind which does not entail the threat of being sent to jail. Glad you picked up on this. I guess that's why the book is so popular with lawyers and law schools. It's the "legal" crime aspects of con games that so fascinates so many in the legal profession.

Lessons from a Conman said...

Absolutely spot on Jack - this is exactly what we experienced when we were so brilliantly conned for millions. I would love to link you to my site? Thanks Tracey

Anonymous said...

I’m still learning from you, however I’m bettering myself. I actually love reading every part that is written in your blog.Keep the stories coming. I loved it!

Anonymous said...

My neighbor and I were simply debating this specific topic, he's normally searching for to show me incorrect. Your view on this is nice and exactly how I actually feel. I simply now mailed him this site to point out him your individual view. After looking over your web site I e book marked and might be coming again to learn your new posts!