The Psychology of Conmen

“How do conmen convince you to part with your money? Who are they? And how do they choose their victims? Learn their secrets from someone who has studied their dark arts. Magician Nick Johnson has some interesting insights into psychology of scams…and some suggestions on how to stop your money from going up in smoke!

Damien Carrick: Now from secrets that get lifted from government, to how you and I sometimes inadvertently hand over information or money to con men. How do scammers manage to convince people to hand over their hard-earned cash? To find the answer, perhaps we could talk to a police officer or a criminologist. But someone with a lateral take is magician Nicholas Johnson. He reckons that both magicians and scammers use the same box of tools: psychology and sleight of hand. In fact he’s studied the dark arts of the scamster, and has some suggestions on how to stop your money from going up in smoke.

Nicholas Johnson: I think what I love most about con artists and the world of scammers is that they’re criminals who manage to get their victims to hand over their possessions freely. Most thieves and robbers and the like, tend to use force, or deception, in order for them to take things, whereas a con artist manages to get their victim to freely give up their stuff. And I think that’s what really fascinates me the most.”

(via The Law Report. h/t: Schneier on Security)

1 Comment

  1. The guy to talk to is someone named Prof. Loren Pankratz, who has written about all kinds of fraud, confidence artistry, and fakery.

    My new series THE BRASS BED, THE VELVET CHAIR, and THE BEARSKIN RUG has a con artist as one of the heroes. When I concieved the series I did the research and discovered that con artists are…not very nice people. In order to make a character who would be lovable and heroic to readers, I had to modify him to be a =failed= con artist. Which worked out, eventually. It also led to him suffering a great deal, because of course in order to be deserving of love, one has to demonstrate trustworthiness. *sigh* Oh, it’s not easy torturing your characters… bwa ha ha!

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