Wikipedia calls a confidence trick (con game) an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence.
Someone said something about a con game not long ago and it rang a bell in my brain. I’ve been trying ever since to determine my favorite con game and confidence man, and the inner, hands down, was a fellow back home who made a career out of living off other people’s money.
Being caught, and going to jail, meant nothing to this man. It just gave him time to sit and think about what he was going to pull on people when he was released.
One time in particular, he wasn’t even out of jail. That particular con was where he, well dressed and driving a late model Caddy, would go to a mobile home dealership and purchase a new home. Every time, the deal went through flawlessly. He would give the exact location where he wanted the home set up. As soon as the home was delivered and set up, the man would write out a check for the entire amount.
The mobile home company would take the check to the bank only to find there was not a penny in the bank. They would rush back to where they had set up the home, only to find a vacant space. Even the concrete blocks they had used were gone.
But they knew who the man was. The authorities would start checking, only to find that particular person was an inmate in one of South Carolina’s finest prisons.
That caused some confusion until it was learned the sheriff in his home town had requested he serve time in the County Jail.
Problem was, he just wasn’t in the County Jail. He was living a quiet life as a free man, making a living buying mobile homes for the same person who had managed to make him a free man.
The official was arrested tried and convicted, while the only penalty the con man had to face was serving out the rest of his sentence in prison.
But as far as I’m concerned, that was far from his biggest, most original con.
It was the fall of the year, and antifreeze, for some unknown reason, was in short supply. Car dealers, and there were plenty around, were in a panic to get their vehicles protected for the upcoming winter.
Here’s where the con man stepped in. He said he had great quantities of antifreeze.
Knowing his reputation, everyone was scared stiff, until he came up with a way to test his bright red antifreeze. He produced 12 ounce bottles, telling everyone to put it in their fridge freezer and leave it overnight.
The test was made, and his antifreeze passed the freeze test with flying colors.
People were lining up to purchase his antifreeze. He wasn’t charging too much and he sold barrels of the stuff.
Everyone was elated. Then, in the middle of winter, problems erupted. Entire cooling systems were simply giving up. Everything was a mess. Radiators were destroyed. Water pumps, heating systems were simply eaten away. It looked as though people had been running salt water in their cooling systems. They were.
Bright red salt water.
The super salesman who had come to everyone’s rescue, well, he seemed to be slightly missing.
Just another sign of the perfect con.
Bryan Ramey is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in the upstate of South Carolina. He graduated from The University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 27 years now. Bryan Ramey believes in representing the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.