Powerful Lessons I Learned From Con Men – Part 5.

by Patrick Liew on March 14, 2014

In my journey of life, I have met many con men. They come from different background and in different shapes and sizes.

I have met highly respected people who have taken off with more than money. Politicians who could teach a class on how to con others.

Religious leaders who didn’t walk their talk. Gurus and professionals who would not blink an eye to leave others in misery, and many others.

I have to confess that I have been tempted many times to join them . The rewards are so enticing and “enriching.”

Thankfully, my faith in and fear of our Creator kept me on the straight and narrow path. I also loved humanity and my sleep too much to stray from it.

“Lord, have mercy on me and please continue to take control of my life.”

You will have to celebrate and at the same time, somewhat sympathise with me.

I’m in a global and trillion-dollar industry, an industry where many people became rich directly or indirectly because of it.

Temptation abounds.

In such a market, I’ve seen many people buried their moral compass. They would do almost anything to fulfill their evil motives, means and ends.

When I first joined the industry 200 years ago (or so it seems), I was shocked by how malpractices were the norm. They even have names for them like special kung fu moves and taught them openly in public places.

Profiting at all cost seemed to be the motto in many quarters of the market.

Thankfully, over the years, professionalism, standards and quality have improved.

Yet, there are still some wolves in sheep skin that are lurking in the dark.

They are ready to pounced on the next ignorant and apathetic customer.

Over the years, I have experienced many a “property gold rush.”

Each time, I saw vultures, wolves, and snakes sneaking and snooping around bends and corners. They waited patiently to prey on innocent victims.

In my mind, I can still see the times when people rush to “buy, Buy! BUY!!” properties like there was no tomorrow. And the rush to “sell, Sell! SELL!!” properties like it was the end of the world.

I could never forget the buyers who consulted me after buying a property. They asked me, “I’ve paid for the property. What did I buy?”

When I think about it, I feel like laughing but it will bring only pain to my heart.

During the ups and downs of the property cycle, there were scams such as “cash back,” “cash down,” “silver bullets,” “illegal money lending” and even immoral but “legalised money lending.”

There were lots of money to be made through these schemes.

Stories floated around the market about how they have minted many millionaires.

I’m glad I put in black and white that my people would not be involved with such scams.

I have also openly told my people and right into their faces, “If I catch any of you doing anything illegal, I’ll personally drive you to the police station.

“I’ll lock you up and and throw away the keys and make sure they can never be found.”

And then, there were times when people would buy overseas properties like birds.

They looked at the prices and said, “Cheap, cheap, cheap.”

Throughout my practice, you’ll never believe the money-making deals that were offered to me.

If I had taken the offer, I might be super duper rich while eating taxpayers-funded food at Changi Prison. Definitely not Chen Fu Ji restaurant standard.

There were countless number of times I’ve heard, “You can earn any amount of money. Just name the price.”

The price of properties that I was involved in fortunately did not include the price of my soul.

I was able to sleep well from the first day I stepped into the industry until now.

My heart is at peace.

Those who know me can tell you I oftentimes sleep more than once per day and before the count of ten – anywhere, any place, any noise, any smell…

Some of the worst and funniest deals I’ve seen are for “building up your land bank, just like Donald Trump, Li Ka-shing, the late Ng Teng Fong, and other billionaires.”

They seemed like good investments if they are not in the middle of nowhere. You can drive miles and miles through them and not see a human or any sign of civilisation.

I suppose if you are a long-term investor or should I say multi-generational investor, you should be able to generate a good return in due time.

Your great great grand children should be able to enjoy the fruit of your amazingly long foresight.

Some of the lands that were marketed in this part of the world were contaminated land.

It would take millions of dollars and in Singlish a “nong nong” time before the buyers can reside on it, let alone urbanized it.

I have personally seen lands that were zoned as conservation areas being sold to “investors.” These were lands that were awarded protection status by law and they could never be inhabited or developed.

The buyer would need to look for a tenant call Tarzan.

I’m sure there should be other potential tenants. Let me think…

I can go on and on about the scams in the industry but I fear it may bring nightmares to me and more importantly, my friends reading this Love Note.

I’m sure you’ve got the drift and warning.

When I reflected on these experiences, I’m reminded that the word “con” in “con men” probably stands for “confidence.”

Con men understand human psyche better than many of us do of ourselves. They know how to invoke confidence in them.

They go through extraordinary extent to plan for the con job. They know how to make you like and trust them.

They will do everything possible to fulfil their evil motives, including making us give them our hard-earned money.

Let me share some ways to enhance your radar to detect a con job and ring fence yourself against con men.

1. Know thyself. Con men knows how to exploit your weaknesses to their advantage.

For example, they know how to appeal to your desire for money, success, happiness, love, relationship, respect and recognition, doing good, and socio-economic status.

They capitalise on your flaws, including potentially your ignorance, apathy, greed, lust, vanity, ego, desperation, laziness, or plain irresponsibility.

Therefore, free yourself of any negative desire. Learn to watch over and protect yourself.

Seek help and support to ensure that you do not fall into any of the con men’s trap and bondage.

2. Source of contact. Find out how did the other parties knows you and who else have they contacted. Check with credible customers about their experience with these parties.

3. Credibility check. Do a thorough check on their integrity and credibility from independent and reliable sources of information.

Find out if there are any complaints about them on the Internet as well as other credible channels.

It includes checking on their background, track record, business dealing, customer service, and results.

4. Seek wise counsel. Seek help and assistance from people who are in a good position to help you determine facts and validity of the offer.

5. Put it in writing. Ask the other parties to put their offer in writing and provide you with credible witnesses, customers, and other references. Don’t rely on written testimonials.

Make sure these references are trustworthy and then call them to verify and find out more information.

6. Ask lots of questions. When you ask a lot of questions, including repeated questions, you will be in a better position to find out the truth.

7. Transact with expert help. Retain professional lawyer, accountant, banker, and financial advisor to help you conduct due diligence and guide you through any transaction. Arrange for the professionals to meet the other parties.

8. Beware of pressures to take action immediately. Con men use all kinds of tactics to persuade and pressure you to take quick action.

They include creating a sense of urgency, scarcity, special offer, limited time frame, risk-free opportunity, social encouragement, and even intimidation and harassment.

9. Look out for red flags. Develop consciousness and caution for risk and dangers.

Con men like to operate in secrecy. They will tell you to keep the offer to yourself.

They prefer to deal with cash because there is no paper trail. They will ask you to send cheques or transfer money to an unknown account or an account that is difficult to trace.

They may befriend you over a protracted period of time. Meanwhile, they wait patiently for the right moment to con you.

The more crooked ones will even offer you their body, money, or other valuables to entice you and win your heart and trust.

10. Better to be safe than sorry. Cultivate a mindset of skepticism and cautiousness.

If the offers are too good to be true, usually they are.

Therefore, spend time and effort to investigate the offer. Verify and test for the truth.

Countercheck with professionals in the subject matter before you make any decision.

In closing, please remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you.”

If I may add, please don’t eat others too.


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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