How do you identify con artists and their cons?

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Yesterday I saw a headline that declared that hundreds of employees had defrauded a cell phone company. Serves the company right some may say for employing staff who have such criminal behavior. Yet it’s difficult to detect con artists. Some time ago there were news stories about large sums that had been embezzled from ordinary investors. One of the culprits was given a long sentence in jail. In these times when morals have declined, where the economy has failed, where jobs are scarce and where people watch the rich life on their screens, the danger of con artists and their schemes has increased.

I hear many stories when chatting to acquaintances and friends about how ordinary suppliers such as builders in particular have required a deposit and then run off with the money. Facebook marketplace scams are notorious. One story I heard of was where an elderly man gave his address to two people to collect furniture he was selling and the two men came, beat him up, ransacked his home ?and drove off with his car. So it’s not just the big scams we are talking about here but all sorts of tricks that con artists get up to.

How do you identify con artists and their cons?

Identifying a con artist and their con involves recognizing certain behavioral patterns and tactics commonly used in scams. Here are some key indicators:

Characteristics of a Con Artist:

  1. Charm and Persuasiveness:
    • Con artists are often very charming and persuasive. They know how to make you feel special and gain your trust quickly.
  2. Too Good to Be True:
    • They offer deals or opportunities that seem too good to be true, often with the promise of quick, easy money or other significant benefits with minimal effort.
  3. Pressure Tactics:
    • They use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency, making you feel like you have to act immediately or miss out.
  4. Inconsistencies in Story:
    • Their stories may have inconsistencies or change over time if you ask for more details.
  5. Reluctance to Provide Details:
    • They often avoid giving detailed information about themselves, their background, or the business they are promoting.
  6. Flattery and Compliments:
    • They use excessive flattery and compliments to disarm you and lower your defenses.

Common Con Tactics:

  1. Ponzi Schemes:
    • They promise high returns with little risk by paying earlier investors with the money from new investors.
  2. Advance-Fee Fraud:
    • They ask for an upfront fee to secure a lucrative deal or prize that doesn’t exist.
  3. Phishing:
    • They send fake emails or messages to trick you into providing personal information, like passwords or credit card numbers.
  4. Romance Scams:
    • They develop a romantic relationship online to gain your trust and then ask for money or personal information.
  5. Investment Scams:
    • They offer investment opportunities that guarantee high returns with no risk.
  6. Charity Scams:
    • They pose as a charitable organization, especially after a disaster, to solicit donations.

How to Protect Yourself:

  1. Verify Information:
    • Always verify the credentials and claims of the person or business independently.
  2. Ask Questions:
    • Ask detailed questions and pay attention to inconsistencies or evasive answers.
  3. Do Your Research:
    • Look up reviews, check with consumer protection agencies, and search for any red flags online.
  4. Trust Your Instincts:
    • If something feels off or too good to be true, it likely is.
  5. Don’t Rush:
    • Take your time to make decisions. Legitimate businesses and opportunities will not pressure you to act immediately.
  6. Secure Your Information:
    • Never give out personal or financial information to someone you don’t fully trust.

Recognizing these signs and being cautious can help you avoid falling victim to con artists and their schemes.