What kind of scams con artists use to trick people? In this article we will highlight 12 scams con artists will use to trick you.
Under the advice of Insider Monkey’s legal team, we excluded some scams from this list, as they are apparently “legal business practices”. Some of the excluded scams are movie theater’s popcorn (10 bucks for a large bucket that would cost you less than a dollar to make at home? Clearly a scam in my book.) or the difference in prices between men’s and women’s razors. Various health care procedure and prescription drug prices, like the recent hike in the price of an AIDS drug Daraprim by an incredible 5,000% (from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill) were also off limits. And finally, university tuitions and college textbook prices also can’t be considered scams “in a true sense of the word”.
Now, with that settled and lawyers off my back, we can get to business. By the way, lawyers charging $400 per hour is also very legal and not a scam at all. While doing research for this article, I was fascinated by the way some of the very old scams con artist used centuries ago found its way into the modern age. For instance, did you know that Nigerian prince scam was first performed in the 16th century? This was way before anyone ever mentioned the name Nigeria, so they had to use a different country, so the scam was known as the Spanish prisoner. Virus hoax, very popular today, originated from a Gypsy fortuneteller scam, also an age-old con. Fake investments were also popular scams in history, although today they may take the form of Kickstarter scams that swindled backers’ donations.
Despite what you think of them, plenty of old time con artists were brilliant men. One of my favorites is a Scotsman Arthur Ferguson. An actor by profession, he managed to sell Big Ben and the Nelson column several times to gullible American tourists. He even took a $10,000 down payment for Buckingham Palace. Once he grew tired of swindling Americans, he went to America and rented the White house to an unsuspecting British couple for $10,000 a week. His American counterpart, a man responsible for the expression “and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you”, was George C. Parker. Parker managed to sell Brooklyn Bridge (several times). New York police had to intervene once the buyers started setting toll booths on the bridge in order to collect the toll. The look on policemen’s faces while being told that Brooklyn Bridge had new owners must have been priceless. Parker also sold Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb and the Statue of Liberty.
One would think that such scams can’t happen today. But in the 1990s, a group of Nigerian scammers sold a non-existing airport to the Spanish Santander Bank for $242 million. Not once did it occur to the investors to actually go to Nigeria and see the airport with their own eyes.
Our list of 12 scams con artists will use to trick consists of much smaller scams, ones that can get you in trouble and make you part ways with your money in ways you wouldn’t suspect. Reading this article can help you save your money and prevent a lot of aggravation.