It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #2.

by Patrick Liew on July 19, 2018

It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #2.

Professional con men never looked like con men.

In fact, they are so good at what they do, some of them can leave their victims without them knowing that they have been conned.

Even if the victims know that they have been conned, they might not even know the complete truth about how they have been conned.

In some cases, the victims have to thank them for their con jobs.

Let me illustrate by sharing a story that happened at one of our property exhibitions in 1995.

It was a lazy afternoon and the crowd had dwindled to almost a trickle.

Two well-dressed persons walked into the show flat.

John and Jim (not their real names) had a facial expression that was manifesting what a salesperson would call a buying signal.

From the moment they appeared, the ambiance in the room started to change.

It was as if a mystical and magical energy force had drifted into the room and was transforming it right before our eyes.

Throughout the sales presentation, John and Jim were asking good questions and making intelligent comments.

At one point, they stopped before a poster that showed the prices of all the properties in the project.

After discussing the details about the project, John who was the taller and more extroverted of the two men made an interesting proposal.

He said, “What I like about the project is that this is the last development in this area in the foreseeable future.

“Whoever buys over a majority of the units can have a domineering control of the supply of such properties in that area and be able to dictate the prices.

“I would like to do an en bloc purchase of many of the properties in the project.

“By the way, what I’m doing will help you sell the remaining units, especially if buyers know we are a long-term player and we will prop up the prices.

“Can you ask the developer’s key manager to meet us and offer us a better price?”

After John had asked the question, Jim did something that still amazed me.

If we were not so amazed, we would have probably realized that they were not normal men.

Jim ran his fingers down the price list. It took him only a few seconds to go through the list.

After that, Jim turned around to John and said, “S$126 million.”

After they left the room, we took a calculator and computed the prices of the properties.

It took us quite a few minutes.

The total figure came out to be exactly S$126 million.

That incident should have set off an alarm bell in our minds.

Much later, one of my salespersons shared with me an interesting observation.

Jim’s pinkie finger looked like it had been chopped off in the middle portion.

At that point, strangely enough, we were not suspicious of their characters at all.

None of us were concerned about any potential foul play.

After all, what negative motives and intentions could there be.

These two men had not benefitted in any way from making the offer.

As we were a closely-knitted team, we were soon caught up in a rowdy time of jubilation and celebration.

Everybody was patting the “lucky” salesperson who served John and Jim. He was literally jumping in joy for hitting the mother lode.

His sales commission would add up to be S$630,000. Not bad for one hour of easy work.

Shortly after, every salesperson was working very hard to persuade their prospective customers to expedite their purchasing decisions.

They were “accidentally leaking” to their prospective customers about the potential of an en bloc sale.

They crowed about a potential buyer who is “a “who’s who” and a person of “extreme high net worth.”

Obviously, the salespersons were adding salt and pepper to close a sale.

The prospective customers were somehow told they might “end up losing a great deal – FOREVER and EVER!”

A key director met John and Jim over a series of meetings.

These meetings were conducted after office hours and in some of the most upmarket nightclubs.

Apparently, John and Jim had asked for many details, many of which were relevant to property fund managers and required by astute investors.

This information was not normally required on the retail front.

Some of their requirements would need extensive research and analysis to produce them.

The director had to run to and fro from various professionals’ office to get the required information and meet John and Jim at their preferred meeting places.

Meanwhile, the director’s entertainment bills were piling up.

At one point, the director asked me for an advice.

John and Jim wanted the director to meet them at a “gentlemen’s club,” one of those places where nocturnal and more specifically, horizontal activities abound.

My risk-sensing and moral antenna went into an overdrive mode.

The so-called “big deal” did not smell right to me.

I advised the director to call it off. It was not worth the risk, time and energy.

There was no way I could ascertain if he took my advice.

I have a feeling he had already plunged too deep into the sales process to just walk away from the “deal”.

All I could say was a short while later, he came to me in tears and told me, “The deal is off.”

Meanwhile, as a result of the “en bloc offer,” our sales took off.

Within a relatively short period of time, the project was a complete sold-out.

Many of my colleagues used to wonder, “Were John and Jim con men?

“If they were, what did they gain from the stunt?”

All we could be surmised was that they must have gotten a cut of the director’s entertainment bill from the vendors.

In any case, many of the salespersons were thankful to John and Jim.

What they did had been turned into a form of closing technique to help them motivate the buyers to make a quick decision.

While sharing with one of my mentees about this incident, I’m reminded that a key reason for the downfalls of many people is greed.

Greed is also closely related to cupidity, avarice, and covetousness.

It’s a belief that “I don’t have enough. I will work harder and harder because I want to have more and more stuff.”

Many people are caught up in such an unregulated pursuit of what I call the 6Ps.

There is an inordinate drive for more and more profits, possessions, power, positions, prestige, and pleasures.

This excessive or rapacious craving for any self-indulgence can also be for just about anything.

The obsession goes beyond basic needs and what we deserve. It has nothing to do with basic survival and comfort or whatever is needed to live a healthy life.

Greed has been known to drive even the smartest of men to indulge in all kinds of desire to satisfy their base instincts, vanity, or even malice to others.

They satisfy their self-interest and oftentimes, at the expense of others even though the craving offers only temporary pleasure.

Material things are valued more than people, relationship, and the environment.

These obsessive desires are like a bottomless pit that cannot be satisfied and fulfilled.

They can lead to all or part of the following damaging destructive activities:

– Scavenging and scraping to satisfy desire,

– Compulsive and obsessive pursuit to acquire and own stuff,

– Hoarding of both essentials and non-essentials,

– Selfishness, stinginess, and unwillingness to help others,

– Prevention of others from getting what they want,

– Criticizing and blaming others for not getting what is desired and also in the hope of getting something better,

– Substituting desire for other meaningless pursuits, and

– Corruption, scam, or violence.

Unfortunately, greed blinds people from falling into the traps of these negative outcomes.

Greed compels them to “hang on to the deal for dear life” (HOLD) for fear of missing out (FOMO).

Very often, greed did not start off as greed.

It begins as a minor craving and grows a little at a time until it becomes an inner drive that is beyond our control.

Greed can be influential and infectious. It can also draw other people to collectively pursue a craving or an obsession.

It can also alienate them from our Creator and friends, colleagues and family.

In an increasingly materialistic and affluent society, we must guard ourselves against the potential for developing greed.

Greed can strike any one of us and especially people with an unhealthy sense of lack, insecurity or deprivation.

It can drive people to make foolish decisions in the relationship, multilevel marketing, business, and investment.

The risk and danger are compounded by the fact that marketers have studied consumer behavior more than many consumers have done for themselves.

They have fine-tuned the art and science of creating wants and desires and persuading us to satisfy them indiscriminately and excessively.

Be careful how we can be lured into the materialistic trap.

Remember, what we seek to control can control us.

Whatever we desire to own can take ownership of our hearts and minds.

It is important that you do not fall in love with unhealthy desires of your heart, eyes, and ego.

Do not be obsessed with money and other material wealth.

Be obsessed with the good that money can do for the people around you.

Focus on values that can offer meaningful, beneficial and sustainable benefits to people and the environment.

By doing that, you will become a more contented, happier, and more fulfilled person.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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