Over the past few days, I have been
thinking about what makes for a successful scam/con – or at least one that can
last for years before imploding big time.
currently a very long thread at Namepros
Adam Dicker, a very well-known domainer who allegedly has been scamming his
customers for years by taking their money and under-delivering or not
delivering promised website services at all.
have come forward with their stories of woe, and evidence appears to be piling
up against Mr. Dicker.
I am NOT one of
But I very well
could have been.
While I don’t
know Mr. Dicker personally and have never met him, he has been a Facebook
friend, an extremely friendly presence on my timeline. He is also well-known in
the domaining community, a go-getter and high-profile presence at the popular
He was respected,
a go-to guy.
him; he has a friendly face
and demeanor, and unlike some of my other FB friends (and even me, if the truth
be told), he never went on a political rant. He never called anyone names. He
posted mostly about his family, his diet, he fave sports – just ordinary stuff.
Occasionally, he posted about his websites and domain names, but nothing excessive
exceedingly polite, a breath of fresh air on the craziness called Facebook.
Just last month
(September 2015) at THE Domain
, a major domaining conference, Mr. Dicker was awarded Developer-of-the-Year
– kind of ironic, given that
not too many of his customers’ domains were being developed by Mr. Dicker’s
companies, but life is full of little ironies, isn’t it?
However, I’m not
out to pile on Adam Dicker specifically; this Namepros thread
is doing a very good job of that, and, besides, I have nothing
of substance to add to that particular narrative.
Also, I have no
idea if Mr. Dicker is a straight-up con man or someone who just got involved in
too many projects and decided to cut his losses and was able to string people
along for so long because of his engaging personality.
Many very smart
people were scammed out of thousands of dollars, dispelling the myth that only
stupid and naive people get conned.
Which leads me to
an epiphany: no one
is immune to a well-placed con.
degrees, human beings are prone to greed, dishonesty, vanity, opportunism,
lust, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, desperation, and naivety, and
con men are excellent at exploiting these human foibles.
Yes, most of us
know to avoid the stranger who telephones us with that “can’t-lose” proposition
or the stereotypical email from the Nigerian Prince promising us millions (if
only we could send him a small fee of, say, $3,950 for taxes).
I’m talking about
the con man (or woman) who walks among us and calls us friends and colleagues.
, the type of con artist who “makes off” with the funds of
people close to him or her.
Con men are
persuasive and confident – hence, the term confidence
Even among loved
ones and friends, they are experts at “building” an effective con:
lay an elaborate foundation, often involving other con artists, planning their
con and selecting their marks with care.
approach their mark, using a well-prepared script.
the mark is receptive or even hesitant, they introduce the scheme and appeal to
his inner greed. They try to break him down by showing how much profit he stands
to make. (If the potential mark resists totally, con men know when to move on
to another mark).
this stage, the con man may even pay out small amounts of money to the mark or
the con’s assistants to “convince” the mark of validity.
con scheme is complete without the dénouement, the end game. The mark is pushed
to the edge and forced to act immediately; the con takes full control of the
narrative – the scam will either work or die right here.
the con artist will make a big show of placing his own money where his mouth is,
just to “prove” to the mark of the con’s honesty. In a common con, the con man
will give the mark a “good will” check for deposit – of course, the check is
bogus and will eventually bounce – long after the con has left town.
are people-oriented; they are charming, engaging, manipulative, and funny, good
at drawing people into their sphere and pro at deflecting questions and
suspicions, which makes them especially dangerous, even to their own family,
friends, and colleagues.
There is one
truth to avoid being scammed:
If it sounds too good to be true, then it’s a 99.9% scam.
And if you think
you are immune, consider this July 1, 2014, Time Magazine article: