Grifter is not a word you hear too
often, but you may be very familiar with these synonyms: swindler, con artist,
scammer, and cheater. If you think you have been "had" or are being
pressured by a con artist, consider evaluating the situation using the suggestions
by Their Words
Grifters and swindlers are master
wordsmiths, who excel convincing you to do something you may have had no
intention of doing. They may use some key phrases when talking with you or
communicating with you in writing that are often clues that should make you
only! What's the rush and where's
the fire? True, some legitimate opportunities may be fleeting (the price
of gold may actually be higher tomorrow, or someone else will come to the
car lot and purchase this beauty before you can make up your mind), but
never give in to the pressure to make a fast decision because the deal is supposedly
only. How convenient. You get to
take my money and I have no recourse. Reputable vendors, dealers, and
business people do not operate on a cash-only basis for big ticket items.
rich quick schemes. Most
likely the only person getting rich quickly is the person scamming you. Something
for Nothing - wouldn't believe that one unless it was being offered by
your own grandmother.
over material. Left over from what? Just as likely
By Their Actions
Grifters, whether in person, over
the phone, by Internet, or even in snail mail, will do their best to rush you into
a decision and possibly even isolate you from others who could influence your
decisions. Here's how they do it (be particularly vigilant when the contact was
initiated by the grafter, not you):
- Expect them to be friendly, and courteous.
- Be aware of down-and-out story tellers.
- Be concerned if they encourage haste or say there is no
reason not to trust them.
- Take note if they offer you a phenomenal price because
"I just happened" to be in your area.
- Be careful when you are told "everyone else" who
invested made money, or that making a profit is "guaranteed."
By Their Appearance
Con artists thrive by fitting in and
making themselves appear to be something they are not. This can be particularly
true of scams that come to you in the mail, by email, or telephone. Scams will often
appear at first glance to be not only legitimate, but from a government agency
or your bank. Keep in mind:
impersonators. Your bank will never send you
an email telling you something is wrong with your account or your password,
or that you need to update your information (nor will they send you a link
to click). If you get an email that looks like it's from a bank, go to the
bank's website on your own (not by clicking a link) and contact their
customer service department.
or other business impersonators.
It is not legal for companies to send mail that looks like it is coming
from an official source (or any other source, for that matter). Read
anything you receive very carefully, and search for some of the key
phrases noted above.
Approach every interaction that you
did not initiate with a good, healthy dose of skepticism. Assume the other
person is lying to you or hiding the truth until you are convinced, based on
facts that they are not.
- Ask for the offer and its terms in writing, on
- Ask for the background, track record and
experience of the people behind the deal.
- Ask to see a balance sheet or for bank references
before making an investment.
- Ask for the name of the person you are talking to, a call
back phone number, and an email address. Ask how they are paid by the
company they represent (salary or commission).
If the person you are working with
is not comfortable answering any of these questions or providing you with
information in writing, you are probably dealing with a scam.
Put yourself on high alert if the
person you are dealing with tries to downplay risks or even denies that there
is any risk.
Before you get involved in any
scheme, project or investment consult an attorney who can help you
unemotionally evaluate the possible risks and benefits of any proposal or offer
someone makes to you. An attorney will protect your interests, and can help you
avoid being fleeced. If you feel that you have been the victim of a scammer,
contact your local police department or prosecuting attorney's office.