List of Confidence Tricks

From Wikipedia:

The Fiddle Game is a variation on the pigeon drop. A pair of con men work together, one going into an expensive restaurant in shabby clothes, eating, and claiming to have left his wallet at home, which is nearby. As collateral, the con man leaves his only worldly possession, the violin that provides his livelihood. After he leaves, the second con man swoops in, offers an outrageously large amount (for example, $50,000) for such a rare instrument, then looks at his watch and runs off to an appointment, leaving his card for the mark to call him when the fiddle-owner returns. The mark’s greed comes into play when the “poor man” comes back, having gotten the money to pay for his meal and redeem his violin. The mark, thinking he has an offer on the table, then buys the violin from the fiddle player (who “reluctantly” sells it eventually for, say, $5,000). The result is the two con men are $5,000 richer (less the cost of the violin), and the mark is left with a cheap instrument. (This trick is also detailed in the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods and is the basis for The Streets’ song Can’t Con an Honest John.)

The glasses drop
is a scam in which the scammer will intentionally bump into the mark and drop a pair of glasses that have already been broken. He will claim that the glasses were broken by the clumsiness of the mark, and demand money to replace them.

Psychic surgery is a con game in which the trickster uses sleight of hand to pretend to remove bits of malignant growths from the mark’s body. A common form of medical fraud in underdeveloped countries, it imperils the victims, who may fail to seek competent medical attention. (The movie Man on the Moon depicts comedian Andy Kaufman undergoing psychic surgery.)

The Spanish Prisoner scam, and its modern variant, the Nigerian money transfer fraud, take advantage of the victim’s greed. The basic premise involves enlisting the mark to aid in retrieving some stolen money from its hiding place. The victim sometimes goes in figuring he can cheat the con artists out of their money, but anyone trying this has already fallen for the essential con by believing that the money is there to steal.

(Thanks PVC)


  1. Spanish lottery.Ticket has right numbers that were picked the day after drawing,date is changed to the week before,check of number says it’s winner, person can’t claim it,ilegal alien,wanted,ect; you can put up $$$ for security till it’s ‘cashed’ or buy it.

  2. Someone tried the glasses drop on me about a year ago in midtown Manhattan. At least, I think it was a scam. He didn’t demand money, but I also didn’t offer.

  3. Romance fraud, when fraudsters seduce people only to target their money, is an old type of fraud. It received high attention in Sweden around 1950 when a man (Gustaf Raskenstam) had had relationships with more than one hundred lonely women, and been engaged with many of them, often several at the same time. He was eventually imprisoned for fraud. His contact ads usually had the headline “Sun and spring” (“sol och vÃ¥r” in Swedish). This type of behaviour is since called “sol och vÃ¥rande” in Swedish.

  4. I fell for the glasses drop this morning near 3rd Ave / 15th st. I hate having a broken pair of glasses so I immediately gave the guy a hundred bucks but by the time I arrived at work, I became more suspicious and decided to google “dropped glasses scam” and found this. Hooray.

  5. Bottled water, the biggest scam in histroy.
    When a couple teens sold ‘purified’ water when actually it was out of the tap. They froze the water in the freezer so it was cold tap water. They printed stickers onto old milk bottle.
    They sold 600ml of tap water for $4.50.

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