Hucksters! Frauds! Charlatans! 7 Signs You’re Getting Ripped Off

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Hucksters! Frauds! Charlatans! Seven Signs You’re Getting Ripped Off.

Shady characters are legion these days. And they all have one thing in common: they’re trying to part you from your hard earned cash. Memorize these warning signs and don’t get ripped off.

1. The person’s name is “Sharky McFlimFlammer” or “Con Man Steve.” Note: This is especially a bad sign if the person legally changed their name to “Sharky McFlimFlammer” or “Con Man Steve”. On the other hand, if their given birth name is “Sharky McFlimFlammer” or “Con Man Steve”, they may be completely harmless.

2. They refer to money as “bones” all the dang time! A regular person might refer to money as “bones” on rare occasions, e.g. “That slick new lawnmower must have set you back a lot of bones!” But this is typically done with a hint of irony and a devilish grin.

However, if someone persistently uses “bones” as their word for money—“seven bones minus two bones equals five bones, plus a tax of 7.25% on bones equals 5.4 bones”—watch out! This person is out to bilk you a good one. Keep in mind that if someone is literally referring to money as bones, they may not be a swindler but rather an old-fashioned person who prefers to barter for goods using disgusting piles of animal bones.

3. Be wary of investments that advertise “No Risk, Huge Instant Profits, and You Must Decide Within 4 Minutes.”  Plenty of investments have no risk, and some even have huge profits, but what’s that “You Must Decide Within 4 Minutes” all about? That part seems fishy, right?

4. They’re walking you up a compliance ladder. This is a technique where a con man gets you to agree with some innocuous statements, in order to form an agreeable mindset and lower your guard. Then they hit you with a whopper.

“You can put things on tables.” — Yes!

“Murder is bad.” — Yes!

“Children are sometimes adorable.” — Yes!

“You want a high-interest mortgage on your house to buy this speedboat.” — Yes… wait, whaaaat!? Boom! You just got ripped off!

However, this is just a verbal technique. If someone invites you up an actual mysterious ladder, it’s probably not a con job, though it may be a kidnapping.

5. They use made up science gobbledygook to buy fake credibility. Swindlers often use technical jargon that seems impressive on the surface but is actually designed to distract and disorient. Suppose that you’re browsing some doohickies in your local bazaar, when one of the knickknack dealers turns to you and says this: “By replacing the point-like particles of quantum mechanics with the 1-dimensional strings of M-theory, we arrive at an elegant model that beautifully unites the physical forces of fundamental reality.”  Whoa! Did you hear that load of hooey!? This mountebank is about to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge!

6. Look-a-Likes. Many hucksters set up respectable fronts, even using real offices, secretaries, business suits, house boats, palaces, factories, airports, space stations, and aircraft carriers. If you receive an invitation to one of these places, watch out! It’s not necessarily a good thing, even if it looks real to your untrained eye. Invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen? Be cautious. It could be a fake palace and a fake queen who are about to set you up for a real doozy.

7. They offer you vague promises of a distant paradise, backed by little more than the intoxicating smoke that flows mellifluously from their silver tongue. It could be a trick!!


Charlatan pic licensed under public domain.

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Written by

Alex Baia is a humor writer and contributor to McSweeney’s and Slackjaw. He lives in Austin, TX.