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Perfect Mark

2006-05-09 17:49:45.708264+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

[ related topics: Spam moron ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-10 15:48:02.42581+00 by: radix


#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-11 16:34:07.839835+00 by: petronius [edit history]

It's pretty easy to feel superior to the poor schmuck in the New Yorker story. Or at least until you get caught up in a scam. A few years ago a guy approached me in the supermarket claiming to be a janitor in the downtown building where I worked who had lost his wallet. He had me about 90% convinced, even though I now realize that he never gave me the exact address. I gave him about 5 bucks for carfare. He was, of course, no such thing, and I was the victim of the short con. I didn't lose much, but it made me a lot less sure that I could never, ever fall for something as ridiculous as the 419 game.

Some years ago on the old TV show Cagney & Lacey the cops are being briefed on a pigeon drop swindle when one cop asks, "This is the part I don't understand. Why would anybody give up some cash to get some more that's right in front of them?" The captain shakes his head ruefully and replies, "Nobody understands. They just keep doing it." That certainly is what happened to this guy, who after getting a provably bogus check went on to accept and pass on several more.

I think part of it is a psychological need to avoid the realization that one has been snookered. When the notorious Hitler Diaries story began to unravel, an official of Der Stern magazine was quoted, "We paid 9 million deutschmarks for them. Of course they're real."

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-11 18:32:10.99309+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I've been taken in the few dollars sense several times. And the ways in which those scams work are numerous, I linked to Kevin Smith on the perils of strip clubs just a few days ago.

And I think the really interesting things about all of these scams is that the first thing the scammer gives to the mark is his confidence, "It's embarassing, but I've lost my wallet", "you look like a nice guy, so let me tell you how bad some of my other clients are", "don't tell anyone, but I got this money from these bad guys...".

The other side of this, of course, is wondering about all of the opportunities I've lost because I'm cynical.