The Con Man – introduction to series on confidence frauds

“The basic idea is this: It’s called a ‘confidence’ game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine”. –David Mamet, House of Games. ‘The secret of being a top notch con man, is being able to know why the mark wants, and how to make him think he’s getting it’

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“The basic idea is this: It’s called a ‘confidence’ game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine”. –David Mamet, House of Games.

‘The secret of being a top notch con man, is being able to know why the mark wants, and how to make him think he’s getting it’ – Ken Kesey, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.

Gabriel Cane: ‘Do you know the difference between a hustler and a good con man?’…’A hustler has to get out of town as quick as he can, but a good con man, he doesn’t have to leave until he wants to’ – Diggstown, 1992

A Con man, is someone who gains a victim’s trust or ‘confidence’, and then by exploiting that trust, gains an advantage. That advantage may be a favour, an act, or an omission. It does not always have to be a financial gain.

A Con man will get someone to do, what they want, whilst the victim believes it is what they want.

Con Men exist in all walks of life.

‘It’s the hard sell and the soft sell, anywhere you go, everywhere you go. It comes at you a hundred times a day, and maybe it’s stretching a point to say that every human being has his own confidence game, that every human being has a tiny touch of larceny in his soul, but be careful, friend; the television is on, and that man is pointing at you!’ – The Con Man (87th Precinct) (McBain, Ed)

Consider this quotation: ‘The Art of diplomacy is letting someone else have your way’ – Daniele Vare, Italian Diplomat

Whilst the phrase indicates a predominant male, it need not be. It could be either gender or trans-gender.

In Law, it could be a Civil or a Criminal misdemeanour.

‘The law doesn’t quarrel with man’s inalienable right to pursue the buck. The law only questions the method and means of acquiring the elusive green’ – The Con Man (87th Precinct) (McBain, Ed)

In Civil Law, a misrepresentation could be a fraudulent or reckless misrepresentation….Misrepresentation Act 1967

In Criminal Law, it could be a fraud by false representation, or perhaps a fraud by failing to disclose information, or a fraud by an abuse of position, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to explore with case law, and case studies, various instances of Confidence Fraud, and characteristics of the Con Man.

Professor David Rosen is a Solicitor-Advocate, Partner and head of Litigation at Darlingtons Solicitors LLP. He is Vice-President, and Strategic Director of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners UK Chapter, a working member of the Fraud Advisory Panel, a member of the Society of Legal Scholars, and an associate Professor of Law at Brunel University. He specialises in Civil Fraud and Criminal Fraud.

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