Hooked on Cons | The Smart Set

 Hooked on Cons | The Smart Set

If you’ve ever worked a cash register, someone may have tried to con you. Register cons are little magic tricks, hustles where a fast-talking customer scams a busy cashier into giving the wrong change. Other scams are long cons, criminal novellas where a grifter selects a mark, establishes a bond, spins a convincing tale over time, and then fleeces their victim. A classic cinematic example is The Sting, the 1973 film where con men Paul Newman and Robert Redford take Robert Shaw for half a million dollars. Big money in those days.

The moral of The Sting is that you can’t cheat an honest man, but actually many cons prey on the trusting. According to Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game, some marks are taken in because they believe too much in the good intentions of others. Other marks are susceptible because they feel they are deserving of good fortune or because they think they are too smart to be fooled. And…

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