Con artists, particularly those who specialize in big cons such as High-Yield Investment Programs, Debenture Trading, phony Investment Clubs, and Boiler Room Telemarketing, are above average in intelligence.
They are self-educated and know how to be extremely sociable, although they are anti-social which means lacking any social conscience.
They easily compartmentalize their different characters, victims, and on-going scams.
Gifted with an exceptional memory, the swindler can access each current script with the speed of a computer; and if they cannot quite remember a fact (or lie), they can dance around the lapse so convincingly that you will seldom, if ever, notice.
“Con artists are often the best marks because they think themselves immune,” she explains. Con artists may be willing to disregard the truth, but according to Konnikova, it’s not due to any compulsive need.
They differ from pathological liars, who lie as “a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Instead, their lies are very calculated and strategic, told with the purpose of moving their plan forward.
Here are eight crazy facts about con artists and the people who become them, based on Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game: In the movies, it’s often easy to spot a sketchy character, but what makes many con artists successful is their ability to present themselves in a way that appeals to their marks and the general public.
As Konnikova points out, consumer fraud in the United States is climbing, increasing by 60 percent since 2008. It’s commonly believed that only foolish people get conned — an idea that Konnikova thoroughly debunks — so it’s understandable that people are often unwilling to admit that they’ve fallen victim to a con artist.Added to this is the fact that such manipulation leaves them without any feeling of guilt or remorse.On the contrary, it leaves them with an intense feeling of satisfaction - a particular glow that encourages them to continue manipulating to get whatever they want, regardless of the cost to the giver.She quotes Frank Abagnale, the man who inspired Catch Me If You Can, who said, “What I did fifty years ago as a teenage boy is four thousand times easier to do today because of technology. “Most cons don’t ever come to trial: they simply aren’t brought to the authorities to begin with,” writes Konnikova. They may come from a broken home or the most stable and well-adjusted of families.
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They may have been afforded an excellent education, or very little. Nor are they set apart by their country of origin, sexual preferences, political bent, religious beliefs, or ingrained social values.