When former confidence trickster Frank Abignale went straight, he began advising the FBI on how to outsmart other check forgers, later forming his own financial fraud consulting company. His movie, based on the book, is “Catch Me If You Can” and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
Now self-admitted former con man Simon Lovell has written a book advising people on the “exact frauds that the NYPD regard as the most common and dangerous today…[along with] top tips on how to avoid each one,” according to Amazon.com. The book is called “How To Cheat at Everything: A Con Man Reveals the Secrets of the Esoteric Trade of Cheating, Scams, and Hustles.”
In an interview with National Public Radio’s The Sound of Young America Podcast in 2007, Lovell talked about a “free ticket” scam which sounds too good to be true, and then is.
How it works: You get a cold call from someone telling you that you’ve won free tickets to an event through a lottery, sweepstakes, random drawing, etc. You and your spouse and anyone else in the home will be picked up in a limo, driven to enjoy dinner at a nice restaurant, brought to the event and then taken home again—all for free.
You contact the stadium, opera center, or symphony box office and learn that yes, the tickets are reserved in your name and they’ve been paid for. The restaurant confirms reservations. Everything seems fine. You attend the event and feel like a celebrity.
The catch? When you get home, you find an empty house. The thieves set all of this up so they would know exactly how long and when you would be gone.
Bottom line: The saying caveat emptor, or “let the buyer beware,” has been around since the days of the Roman Empire, but “let the random winner beware” definitely applies in today’s world.
Always investigate cold callers thoroughly and keep your skeptical hat on. Start With Trust by checking out companies and organizations at www.bbb.org if you can.