Monday, May 17, 2010

The confidence game

Most people are taught that it's wrong to lie.

Not embellishing the truth, I mean an outright deception of reality. Very few people have mastered the "skill" and those who can do it well are often rewarded. I was horrified to learn that a friend was swindled out of her savings by her boyfriend. She was smart, beautiful, with a great job and expensive taste. So what made her a mark?

A "mark" can be anyone, no matter how careful a person is they are always susceptible to a con. Using our own greed, vanity, naivety, kindness, cruelty, and of course, pride. I now cringe when I hear anyone "ridiculing" a person when they are at their most vulnerable. The natural reaction to such an incident is usually "how stupid", "what a fool", "they should have known better". Have you ever thought that? Told a person that? I have. I now check myself.

I recently received one of those letters from South Africa asking for a temporary loan so that they could get access to a large sum of money, promising a "cut" if I did so. After a nice laugh, I promptly shred the page. So what to do? Learn, forgive yourself, and learn. For the next month or two I'll be posting about one incredible "confidence man/woman/group" or another. Historical, modern, and across the globe. Maybe I'll learn a thing or too, and marvel at the gall of it all.