Tag: scam

You Just Gotta Tell It Right

I’ve been binge-listening to fraud-focused true crime podcasts like Swindled, Drilled, and The Dropout. Bad Blood is the current book on my nightstand. True Crime books about notorious cons and scams abound. The Strategist, from New York magazine, offers a list of some of the best (Reading Lists, “The Best Books on Con Artists, According to True-Crime Experts,” July 5, 2018, Karen Iorio Adelson). Some of the real-life fraudsters are so outrageous, if you pitched them as characters in a novel, your idea would be rejected as too fantastic. But con artists do often appear in crime fiction, in movies (Catch Me if You Can, American Hustle, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, House of Games, The Hustler, The Color of Money, Trading Places, White Men Can’t Jump, The Ladykillers, Focus, Ocean’s Eleven) and novels (The Grifters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, Nightmare Alley). If I wrote a novel starring a con artist, I’d choose a chameleon-like character who put on and shed new identities like a snake skin. My con artist (protagonist? antagonist?) would use those identities to insert herself into others’ lives, motivated more by a desire to reinvent herself , to erase herself and become someone new, […]

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The More You Know…

The number of scams seems endless. Check your email spam folder sometime and scroll through the endless list of solicitations offering you bogus romance, lottery winnings, investment opportunities, insurance products, credit card and bank account alerts, and anti-virus software. The Oxford English Dictionary has fewer words. Most cons can be lumped into broad categories. Knowing the categories may make it easier to spot a con. Scamwatch.gov.au lists: –Attempts to gain your personal information. These include phishing (called whaling and spear phishing when it targets businesses and business executives), hacking, identity theft, and remote access scams (those phony computer repair guys) –Buying and selling scams. These include false billing, classified ad scams (think Craigslist), sham health and medical products, mobile/cellphone premium services, online shopping scams, overpayment scams (legitimate sellers are targeted with bogus refund demands), and psychic/clairvoyant scams –Dating and romance scams. Swipe left –Bogus charities –Investment and betting scams. These include real estate and mortgage scams, boiler room operations selling risky penny stocks or phony stocks, and bogus software that promises “guaranteed” gambling wins –Job and employment scams. These include get-rich-quick schemes, pyramid schemes, and job opportunities that require starter kit fees –Threat and extortion scams. These include malware/ransomware that […]

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What’s the Story?: True Crime Fraud

Long a popular subject in fiction—The Sting, Paper Moon, The Grifters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Six Degrees of Separation—fraud and con games have become a true crime staple. From early entries like the 2005 film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and the 2008 book, The Billionaire’s Vinegar, we now have television series (the Stacy Keach-narrated “American Greed” on CNBC), more films (Sour Grapes in 2016, competing Fyre Festival documentaries in 2019), books (King Con, Bad Blood), and podcasts (Drilled, Swindled, American Greed, The Dropout, Dirty John, The Dream). Podcasts, in particular, have embraced the art of the con as a rich source of material. Some, like the American Greed podcast, a spin-off of the CNBC show, offer a brief report of a specific case, similar to a news brief that might pop up in your Facebook or Google newsfeed. Others, like Swindled, offer a deeper dive into each crime, giving listeners more background on the perpetrators and victims along with some analysis of the case. Still others, like Drilled, The Dream, and The Dropout, devote an entire series to a single con, like climate change denial (Drilled), multi-level marketing schemes (The Dream), and the Theranos scandal (The Dropout). […]

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