ROBERT A. STEINER, PRESIDENT ELECT THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MAGICIANS Box 659 El Cerrito, C
ROBERT A. STEINER, PRESIDENT ELECT
THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MAGICIANS
El Cerrito, CA 94530
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM
THE CON ARTIST
By Robert A. Steiner, CPA
Copyright (c) 1987, by Robert A. Steiner.
Virtually anyone can be taken in by a con artist. Do not
ever, not even for a moment, believe that you are immune. Al
Capone, who was certainly not a naive bumpkin, gave $50,000
to a con artist to invest in a venture which was guaranteed
to double the investment within two months.
While you cannot totally insulate yourself from the con
artist, awareness of methods, alertness, and taking your
time in decisions will go a long way toward protecting you.
Do not believe the myth that only those with greed and
larceny in their hearts - those willing to enter into an
illegal or unethical scheme - can be taken. Grief works as
well or better. Con artists scan the obituaries in the
newspaper to find marks. Perhaps they will deliver - C.O.D.,
of course - a package allegedly ordered by the widow's
recently deceased husband. You now own a package containing
Compassion is also a virtue which can place you at risk. You
are home alone. The doorbell rings. When you answer, the
three folks represent themselves to be, and appear to be, a
grandmother, a mother, and a little baby crying in her
The "grandmother" apologizes profusely for disturbing you.
Then the mother takes over: "I'm sorry. My baby is
thirsty. Could we please just fill her bottle with cold
How can you refuse? So you invite them in. The mother and
baby go into the kitchen with you, while you chat and tend
to the chore of filling the baby's bottle. Then you admire
and comment on how cute the baby is, as you watch her guzzle
the water. You are pleased when the baby stops crying. She
was indeed thirsty.
And where is "Grandma" while all of this is going on? She
is in the living room, loading your silverware, jewelry, and
antiques into her purse. What's that? You left your purse
or wallet on the cocktail table in the living room? When you
retrieve it, after the "family" has left, it will be
Do not overlook civic duty as a hook. A "bank examiner"
telephones to explain that they suspect a teller of short-
changing customers. You are requested to withdraw $1,000
from your account, in ten- and twenty-dollar bills. The
bills will be marked for identification. As you leave the
bank, the "examiner" will meet you. He will take the money,
for counting and verification, and will give you a receipt.
The last instruction is: "In order to do a proper audit and
not to arouse suspicion, you must not tell anyone - not even
your spouse. Don't worry, it will take only a few hours to
check and return the money to you. It will be back in your
bank account by closing time." Good-bye $1,000.
Loneliness, stress, anger, being away from home, having
recently fallen in love, and many other conditions may dull
your judgment and make you more susceptible to a con game.
But remember, you are somewhat ripe for picking at all
Beware the seller of "alternative medical care which the
medical establishment does not understand," or "cures which
the medical establishment is trying to suppress."
Beware the "faith healer" who claims that God speaks
directly to him.
The quack who fraudulently sells worthless nostrums
"guaranteed to cure you" is no less a thief than the burglar
who breaks into your home at night.
If you smell a con, even if it is only the slightest
suspicion, contact the police. Do not try to beat the con
artist on your own. You will not beat a grifter at his or
her own game. Do not even try. Do not even think of
trying. Call the police. They are professionals at this.
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay
The sure thing isn't. The deal that can't lose can.
The "stolen gold watch" that the stranger will "sell cheap"
is usually none of these: not stolen, not gold, and not
cheap. The "low" price you pay is well above its value.
Do not enter into any illegal or unethical deal. Do not let
strangers into your home.
If a stranger claims to have found money, and expresses a
desire to share it with you, watch out. It is called "The
Pigeon Drop," and is one of the oldest and most successful
scams going. Next he, she, or they (They frequently work in
pairs.) will ask you to put up "good faith money."
Be on guard whenever anyone instructs you to withdraw cash
from your bank account, for any reason.
If you have a wonderful offer on which the salesperson must
have an immediate answer, that answer should virtually
always be no.
If you are in unfamiliar territory, always make time to talk
to someone: a friend, attorney, CPA, doctor, the Better
Business Bureau, a policeman, or someone. Frequently, the
mere fact that you are allowing yourself time to think about
it and to talk to someone will scare off the con artist. On
the other hand, a reputable businessperson will not be upset
at all by that. He or she wants a satisfied customer, and
is rarely a hit-and-run operator. After all, if you are a
satisfied customer, you will recommend others.
If you detect the hint of a con, say No and get away. Do
not argue, do not explain, do not plead, do not apologize.
You are under no obligation to deal with this new person who
came along. If you must, make only one attempt at being
polite. If that fails, if the person attempts to intimidate
you or to lay guilt on you (They are masters at that.),
forget politeness. Just get away.
Unless you are well-qualified to make difficult judgments
quickly, and unless you are in familiar territory regarding
the subject under negotiation, do not rush into a deal. If
it is on the level, most likely it will be there tomorrow.
That will give you time to think about it and to discuss it
with trusted friends, family, and/or advisors. And, if
perchance it is not there tomorrow, you will be left with a
valuable commodity - Money.
Take your time. It will make you healthier, wealthier, and
Copyright (c) 1987, by Robert A. Steiner. This may be copied
and distributed free. (It must be copied in its entirety,
including copyright notice and this statement, or it may not
be copied at all.) It may not be sold. For information on
presentations, please contact:
Robert A. Steiner, Box 659,
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Robert A. Steiner is a board member of BAY AREA SKEPTICS.
To obtain a free sample copy of their monthly publication,
BAY AREA SKEPTICS
San Francisco, CA 94122
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank