10 Commandments for Con Men

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Filed under: How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals

From Marcy LaViollette as seen on Lists of Note:


“Count” Victor Lustig was a con man of considerable note. Born in 1890, by the 1930s he was wanted by approximately 45 law enforcement agencies worldwide. He had 25 known aliases and spoke 5 languages. He cunningly gained $5k from Al Capone. Better still, in 1925, Lustig posed as a government official in Paris, took five businessmen on a tour of the Eiffel Tower, and then “sold” it to one of them as 7300 tonnes of scrap metal; the con went so well, he tried it again soon after.

He also wrote the following list of commandments for aspiring con men.

  • Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
  • Never look bored.
  • Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
  • Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
  • Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
  • Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
  • Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
  • Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
  • Never be untidy.
  • Never get drunk.
  • source: Fakes, Frauds & Other Malarkey
    image: Victor Lustig in 1937