It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #7.

by Patrick Liew on July 23, 2018

It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #7.

There are con artists who are so overly-charming that normal people should at least be suspicious of these con artists.

Quite a few may even have taken precautions so that they would not fall for these con artists’ traps and be cheated.

Yet, many will still be directly or indirectly scammed and then suffered for it.

These victims can be leaders of large enterprises, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, and well-educated executives.

These con artists are so charismatic that they can even persuade others to join them in their scams.

These accomplices may participate in the scam without benefiting or planning to benefit from it.

In the end, they may even end up losing their own pants.

Unbelievable? Sound just like a movie?

Oscar Wilde once opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.

I have come across many of such highly-charismatic con artists with dynamic personalities.

They can even perform better than many professional actors and actresses in a well-scripted movie about con jobs.

One of such con artists was actually invited to work with me until I discovered his evil ways.

Sam (not his real name) started his working life in the service industry.

It was in a highly-demanding environment that he honed the art and science of winning hearts and minds.

Unfortunately, he applied his pseudo image and magnetic personality, dressing and behavioral styles, and interpersonal skills to eventually advance his negative motives, means and ends.

After leaving the service industry, he joined a direct selling industry, and very quickly, stood out from the crowd and became like a proverbial Pied Piper in the marketplace.

Sam became a leader for one of the largest teams of solopreneurs.
These self-employed free agents followed him through thick and thick, and worked with him to develop an electrifying team with a cult-like culture.

Sam’s charisma coupled with a highly infectious team gave him wider latitude to attract more people to join him.

It also unfortunately unleashed demons from some dark corners within him.

The combination of a charming personality and a highly passionate team, backed by dark forces, helped Sam pave an attractive highway.

Many who travelled with him on that highway were eventually left broken-hearted, financially broke, and bruised in many ways.

After building quite a name for himself, Sam came to me with a business proposal that sounded too good to be true.

You know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

But I fell fully and foolishly for it anyway.

Prior to working with Sam, many have warned me about him.

Until today, I am not sure why I had let my guard down and did not heed those warnings in my heart.

Was it self-pride or my belief in human goodness?

Was it foolishness or faith in my business experience and in my competent management team?

Was it greed or commitment to a worthwhile dream?

Cut a long story short, Sam became virtually like my business partner, and he enjoyed a share of our company’s revenue.

To be fair to him, although he did comparatively little work, he gave me good ideas along the way on how to run our business.

He adviced me despite not having any deep experience in managing a similar business.

That was how talented Sam was and why many people would overestimate their capabilities in handling Sam and fall for his wily ways.

For some strange reasons, I like Sam.

I would have gladly adopted him to be my brother and invited him to be a part of my family.

I tried very hard to help him change his ways and use his talents for a greater good.

Despite the wrongs that he had done to me and my company, I would still pray for his good – almost every day – during my darkest period with him.

While working for me, Sam would start a new business almost every month.

Much later, I found out that his initial modus operandi was simple.

Start or buy a company. Inflate the price of the business and its assets.

And sell part of the shares of the company to those who believe in him so as to recover his costs and even make a profit from the sale.

Subsequently, he made some of them work indiscriminately hard to turn the company around and generate more profits for him.

Many of his companies failed but he would have made a profit.

Later, he learned to manipulate the financial accounts to benefit himself, initially for a small sum of money and then, for a bigger and bigger sum over time.

One of the shareholders even told me that none of the shareholders had ever seen the books nor had any share of the profits for years.

Meanwhile, because Sam controlled the company and its financial record, nobody would dare to stand up and speak up against him.

At one point, some of his key shareholders even got together to join Sam in scamming an entrepreneur.

The unknowing entrepreneur had made a huge profit through his business and was sitting on a stack of cash.

Sam and his team planned a wonderful evening with the entrepreneur.

Did everything possible to make him happy.

And then shared with him about a wonderful new “deal of a lifetime.”

Before the evening was over, the entrepreneur shook Sam’s hands and transferred a huge sum of his money into Sam’s corporate bank account.

When one of the protagonists of that con job related the story to me, I felt like I was watching a movie in my mind.

That mental movie was better than some of the Hollywood or Hong Kong movie blockbusters on fraudsters, swindlers and scammers.

The sad truth is that many of those who have helped Sam pulled off many of his con jobs got nothing out of them.

A short while later, Sam and I went our separate ways.

Like many of Sam’s investors, I had to go through a bad financial hit but that was not as bad as the emotional pain and sorrow from the experience with him.

Years later, I heard that Sam had fine-tuned his expertise in conmanship to a fine art.

Many continued to be cheated, fleeced, and scammed by him.

As I’m writing this post, karma had not caught up with him.

Sadly, he may not reap all the bad seeds that he has sown in this lifetime.

The only good that I can think of is to share about Sam in the hope that we can become wiser in our personal and professional dealings.

Through my painful experience with him, I learned the following lessons:

1. Con artists are out to get you.

According to her book, The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova wrote that con artists have many of the traits of psychopaths, narcissists, and Machiavellians.

They put on a persona of sanity and play a trust-winning game to get your attention and be your friend.

Unfortunately, their motives mean, and ends are designed to serve their own egos and interests.

Many of them have lost their abilities to process essential emotions such as empathy, compassion, remorse, and guilt.

Therefore, they are unable to make moral judgments.

Even if they know that their actions are wrong, they will still be able to justify for their wrongdoings.

Their relationship with you is like a chess game to benefit themselves.

2. Con artists are charming and charismatic.

It is hard to define charm or charisma but you will know it when you feel it.

These are some of the qualities of inspirational leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers.

They use their charm and charisma to give confidence and comfort to others.

Unfortunately, these are also the same qualities that con artists, charlatans, and cheaters use to hustle and swindle people.

Please note that there’s nothing wrong with being attractive and to be attracted to anybody.

However, studies show that when people are unduly attracted to a person, including themselves, they have a tendency to suppress their emotional ranges and weaken their reasoning abilities.

As a result, they can become vulnerable to emotional manipulations and unhealthy submissions and bondages.

3. Con artists suck you gradually into a personality cult.

People who strive to be popular, charming and charismatic have a tendency to want more and more love, adoration and approval from their followers.

As a result, they may be drawn to develop predatory principles, values, and behaviors.

On the other hand, followers can also become so drawn to charismatic people that they become somewhat addicted to the “high” of being with them.

And these followers may crave for more of their presence, charm, and messages over time.

Both leaders and followers may become ungrounded to reality, blinded to the truth, and distorted from objectivity.

As a result, there is a tendency to develop unhealthy policies and decisions, and take the wrong actions.

4. Con artists are equipped with a comprehensive toolkit to scam you.

Con artists usually have appealing images and personalities that may win your adoration or sympathy.

They can position themselves as a hero or a pitiful soul with heart-warming values, stories, and actions.

And present themselves as an authority or a likable person to gain your affection and trust.

They know who they should target, including those who are ignorant, naive and trusting.

And prey on their greed, fear, shallow thinking, gullibility, and soft-heartedness.

And read minds and capitalize on situations to their advantages.

They know how to make you feel good and important, and appeal to your ideas, desires, and hopes.

Learn to be agreeable and amiable, and not upset or cross swords with you.

Speak right into your heart with hypnotic messages, including wonderful stories, jokes, and wise sayings.

And offer claims and promises that cannot be proven or validated.

They will not hesitate to tell strategic, calculated, and heart-moving lies to trap you or draw you deeper into their traps.

Many of them grew up conning more and more people.

And have practiced their manipulative and deceptive crafts throughout a large part of their lifetimes.

5. Con artists are quite possibly around you right now.

According to Dr. Robert Hare, about 1 out of 100 men have a tendency for psychopathic behaviours.

Some of these psychopaths may very well be con artists and may be hanging around you right now.

And waiting for the opportunity to prey on you and con you of your emotions, belongings, and future.

6. Be on guard all the time.

First and foremost, never underestimate con artists’ abilities to scam and cheat you.

They know how to subtly crawl into your heart to influence you and eventually, take control of you.

As a precaution, if you are working closely with any person or group, take time and effort to research about them.

Seek references about them from credible, independent and knowledgeable people.

Be clear-minded to find out their characters and values.

And determine whether their motives, means and ends are congruent, virtuous and upright.

If in doubt, always seek wise counsel and ask the credible, knowledgeable and caring person to watch over you.

Seek professional counseling and assistance if you have problems detaching yourself from any person or group that has a negative influence on you.

It bodes well to remember that the people who thought they can never be conned might very well end up being conned because they fail to ring-fence themselves properly.

Some of the nicest people can turn bad. By the same token, those who are bad can also turn over a new leaf.

As the Chinese proverb would say, “You can be wise through most parts of your life but foolish just for a moment.”

When your guards are down, that could be the time when con artists would make their moves against you.

You have been forewarned.


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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