Powerful Lessons I Learned From Con Men – Part 3.

by Patrick Liew on March 14, 2014

I once met a con man who pulled off an almost perfect con job.

He’s still scot-free.

In year 2006, a friend introduced me to an impressive young man. He was well educated, articulate and talented in many ways.

Mike (not his real name) has a special gift – an outstanding memory. He also has a talent for teaching different techniques to help others improve their memory skills.

I was asked to take in the young man as a mentee and to coach him to be an entrepreneur. I did everything for him on a pro bono basis.

Out of the goodness of my heart, I did not only train him, I allow him to operate from my office.

Little did I know I was opening my office door for a time bomb to be installed in it.

I even helped him to generate his initial revenue by organizing memory-improvement courses in my training room.

I did not ask for a share of the profit and neither did he offer to share it with me.

I was happy with the arrangement because I wanted so much to help him achieve success.

To be fair to him, he did a good job with the training. I had positive feedback from the participants.

On the flip side, every sign showed that Mike was a young man in a hurry. All he wanted was to make a fast buck.

I should have seen through his intention or should I say, evil motive.

However, I was blinded by my desire to groom a young man. He had every potential to be a great entrepreneurial leader.

I also could not imagine even in my wildest dream that he would cross over to the dark side.

The wake up call came one day from a distant friend.

“Patrick, do you know Mike?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Are you aware of his con job? I’m calling because I know you’ll never support such a wrongdoing.”

My heart started to beat faster. A sense of fear and anxiety started to run through my being.

My friend explained Mike’s con job to me.

Apparently, Mike had placed a series of advertisements in the local newspaper.

They were placed to look for candidates to fill up Vice President positions for a company.

These candidates would be employed as expatriates and they would be based in major cities around the world. They would be paid a generous sum of S$250,000 per annum.

After a series of job interviews, every person who applied for the job was given an employment contract.

They were promised that they would be trained to become a senior manager and given a fast-track career.

Mike was smart enough not to offer the job on the first interview.

Everything he did was designed to look professional and to give an impression of a stringent selection process.

Truth be told, most of these candidates did not have the qualification, experience and competence to do the job.

They were therefore overjoyed to be given an employment contract and such a lucrative offer.

As part of the contract, candidates had to put up a “refundable deposit.”

The rationale for the requirement was made to sound logical and acceptable to candidates.

Mike told them that he had to invest time, money and effort to apply for a work permit for them. Whether it is successful or not, the deposit will be refunded to the candidate.

However, if the application was not successful because the candidate had falsify information or had held back material information that could affect success of the application, the deposit would be forfeited.

Mike told them that it would take some time as he had to set up the overseas offices. Meanwhile, he would submit the application.

Subsequently, he had to come out with many “justifiable” excuses for the long process in getting the work permit and why the candidate had to be patient.

Eventually, the candidates realised they had been conned. However, none of them was willing to go to the police.

Most of them told me to the effect that they treated it as “another lesson in life, after all the deposit was only a few thousand dollars.”

The fact was that none of them would like to appear in court and look like a fool for being conned.

What’s more, they fear they would be ridiculed by their relatives and friends for applying for such a senior position and believing they could do the job.

I tried to report to the police but because I was not a victim, the police was not willing to take my complaint.

They told me to encourage the victims to come forward to lodge a report.

I tried to talk the victims into doing it but failed. They just wanted to move on in their life.

All I could do was to connect to Mike’s parents and told them about the incident.

I also threatened to go to the ends of the world to put Mike behind prison bars.

As far as I know, Mike never pulled another con job in Singapore again.

As there was nothing more that I could do, I eventually moved on with my life.

What stayed on in my heart and mind until today are many powerful lessons from the unfortunate episode.

These are lessons that can put us in a better position to succeed in life.

I like to share them with you.

1. Be aware and beware of the wolves in sheep skin.

We live in a strange world.

There are smart people out there who will do anything for selfish gains and they will do it to the detriment of others.

That’s why we need to be aware and beware of how greed can take control of people, including even some of the best of our friends.

Never underestimate what they will do to satisfy their self-serving desires.

Be vigilant. Don’t fall into any traps laid out by evil men, especially in the guise of material benefits.

2. Exercise control over your fleshly desires.

Con men exploit weakness of the human psyche, including greed, vanity, lust, ignorance, apathy, desperation, irresponsibility and laziness.

They appeal to typical pursuits such as the pursuit of wealth, success, happiness, respect, popularity, opportunity and love.

Therefore, all all times, do not let the things of the world take you into their bondage.

Free yourself from unhealthy desires and you will realise the joy of true freedom.

3. Differentiate needs from wants.

Learn to differentiate needs from wants.

Needs are requirements that help us to survive and do well in life.

Wants are desires that may enhance our emotion temporarily but they are not sustainable.

Make it a goal to fulfil your needs in the most effective and efficient way.

The best way to do it is to live simply. It is one of the keys to improve your happiness level.

Live within your means and as cost effectively as possible. The resulting savings can be used for investment purposes and to support a good cause.

No con men can con a person who endeavours to live a simple and honest life.

4. Cultivate discipline of delayed gratification.

Delay satisfying your wants.

Determine why you want to do it and the outcomes you are trying to achieve.

Look for better and more sustainable ways to enjoy a similar purpose and outcome.

For example, if you are looking at acquiring something so as to be happy. You can always look for a cheaper way to achieve the same emotional satisfaction.

Delayed gratification can help us develop self-control, discipline and perseverance.

These are also traits that are common in many successful people.

It will also ring fence you against the wily ways of con men.

5. Research, analyse and seek after the truth.

Never take information at face value. If any offer is too good to be true, it usually is.

Do your own research. Learn to think deeply and critically so that you will get to the truth.

6. Focus on positive values.

Pursue values that will help you live at a higher plane in life.

Commit yourself to serve a higher calling and for a worthwhile cause.

When you do that, you will not fall for the traps of evil men.

You will learn to live a meaningful, exciting and fulfilling life.


By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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