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.