Jessie: At the beach, enjoying the salty breezes!
As we round out our discussions this month I want to chat about cons once more. We’ve talked about fictional cons already, but today I am wondering if you have ever been swindled in real life yourself? Or have you ever used a real con as the inspiration for a crime in a novel?
Julie: What an interesting question. I haven’t been conned myself. I will say, I’ve got a spidey sense about people. I had a friend who met someone online, and I had a gut feeling that he wasn’t being honest. I told her, and she wasn’t pleased. She was even less pleased when I was right. These days, small cons are so easy because of technology. It could be making someone believe X is true, when it isn’t. The con could be sinister, or just opportunistic. But I am in the trust, but verify camp. Or sometimes verify first.
Barb: I’ve never been conned, unless you count buying a dress from an Instagram ad that arrived from China looking like a garbage bag and made of roughly the same material, with no way to return it. Once. Or the complete sociopath I hired. Twice, I did that to my eternal regret. (Two different sociopaths to be clear. I didn’t hire the same one twice. That really would be crazy.) But I do know four people who have been taken in scams, one in a Mystery Shopper scam, one in an IRS scam, and two in the Grandparent Scam. In each case, it wasn’t the “big con” that got them, but a series of small, plausible stories and decisions based on their unique circumstances, and then they were in too deep. It’s something I remember frequently. It can happen to anyone.
Sherry: Barb, I’m so glad you didn’t rehire the same sociopath! You had me worried there for a minute. In my younger days, I fell for a few lines from boys I dated, but other than that so far so good. However, it’s like I’m constantly on alert now with cons coming through texts and emails at an alarming rate. A long time ago my very smart, tenderhearted father fell for a phone scam where the people said they were raising money to send kids with cancer to Disney World. Back then they actually came to the house to pick up the money! Yikes! I can’t remember how he found out it was a scam, but he called the police and reported it.
Edith/Maddie: What a set of stories, ladies! By my nature and my upbringing, I am on the gullible side. You could call it naive, you could call it trusting. So far, I have not been seriously conned. But my Hugh and his brother-in-law Jim are masters at keeping a straight face. After nearly twenty years, I am still not always sure if a story Jim says is true or not. Hugh? I’ve learned to read him much better – the eye twinkle gives it away. Hmm, now I want to use Jim’s teasing in a fictional conning character!
Liz: I’m definitely wary of cons, and perhaps overly suspicious of people. That said, I was kind of conned out in the open with a recent realtor I hired to help me find a rental in Portland, Maine…the market is crazy up there so I figured I’d have a better shot if I had someone helping me. However, it was not my best decision. Suffice it to say I lost some money, but was able to dodge a bullet by backing out of a potentially bad situation. Lesson learned? Always listen to Barb Ross – and don’t hire rental realtors!
Jessie: Always listen to Barb Ross! Words to live by, Liz! I’ve never been conned in real life either, but I have seen it up close a couple of times. I think, like Liz, I am wary by nature and have no belief whatsoever that things that are too good to be true actually are good for me at all. Maybe it is a puritanical upbringing, but I always feel as though there is virtue in the earning of things and to be leery of spontaneous windfalls!
Readers, have you ever been conned? Have you ever had a sense that someone else was being conned and you ended up being correct?