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Confidence trick

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A confidence trick, or con for short, (also known as a scam) is an attempt to intentionally mislead a person or persons (known as the mark) usually with the goal of financial or other gain. The confidence trickster, con man, scam artist or con artist often works with an accomplice called the shill, who tries to encourage the mark by pretending to believe the trickster.

Well-known confidence tricks:

  • Three Card Monty, The Three-Card Trick, Follow The Lady or Find the Lady. The trickster shows three playing cards to the audience, one of which is a queen (the lady), then places the cards face-down, shuffles them around and invites the audience to bet on which one is the queen. At first the audience are sceptical, so the shill places a bet and the trickster allows him to win. This is sometimes enough to entice the audience to place bets, but the trickster uses sleight of hand to ensure that they always lose.
  • The Spanish Prisoner[?] scam, which is essentially the same as the Nigerian money transfer fraud. The basic come-on is "we need your help to get some stolen money out of its hiding place". The victim sometimes goes in figuring he or she can cheat the con artists out of their money: anyone trying this has already fallen for the essential con, by believing that the money is there to steal.
  • Religious cults. Some religious cults have been described by their critics as confidence tricks. It is alleged that their aim is to obtain money from their followers by deception.

Famous con artists:

Confidence tricks in fiction:

References:

See also:



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