How to Spot a Con Artist

How to Spot a Con Artist

How to Spot a Con Artist

Justin Lavelle
March 14, 2019

People around the world tuned in to see Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, call his old boss a “con man” and a “cheat” at his recent Congressional hearing.

Con artists are known to give indirect orders, contradict themselves, and manipulate those around them to get what they want — all things that Cohen claims the President did while they were working together.

It’s important to know how to spot a con artist and understand how one might pick a target. Consider these five common traits of fraudsters — you just might prevent yourself from becoming their next victim.

They’re Charming

Much like narcissists, con artists use their charm to their advantage. Charisma goes a long way in convincing people to do their bidding, whether they’re looking for short-term love, money, or favors. Be wary of those who lay it on thick. After all, the “con” in con artist is short for “confidence.”

They Make Outlandish Claims

Maybe they don’t go so far as to claiming they’re a prince from some faraway land, but they might claim to have attended a prestigious school, or that they’re the owner of a profitable company. An outlandish claim could even come across as somewhat believable, and it’s all to gain your trust. Once they have it, you’re more likely to do what they suggest, ask, or demand.

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They Offer Something You Need

Most con artists are looking to siphon money from you, but not all. Some will prey on the vulnerable, or love-starved, just for the fun of it (not unlike a catfish in an online dating situation). Generally, though, a con artist might give you undivided attention and hope you get addicted to it, and then hit you with a request, such as wiring money to them to help them get home after they lost their wallet while visiting a foreign country, or some other scheme.

They Commonly Contradict Themselves

If you spend a lot of time around a con artist, you might notice that they say one thing, and then contradict what they’ve just said, sometimes within the same breath. This is a method designed to make you question yourself. Did you hear them right the first time? Maybe they really didn’t say it.

They Offer You Money, If …

A common con is to contact someone offering money, if they can provide bank account details to accept the wire transfer. This could be disguised as reward money, a long-lost relative leaving you money in a will, or some other crazy story. It’s never a good idea to give your personal details to a stranger or someone you’ve just met, as you’re setting yourself up for fraud or identity theft.

If you’re ever unsure of the person on the other end of the phone or email address, or you’re simply wary of someone who seems too good to be true, you may want to run a background check on them. At the very least, you can see if the person has been honest about who they are, and at worst, you might find out some of the problems they’ve had in the past, whether financial or criminal.

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Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.