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Gina Wilson had a perfect life. A high-flying corporate job in a pharmaceutical company, two wonderful children, a supportive husband who worked in the real estate business, a mansion in the suburbs overlooking a garden, and a blissful life overall. Gina was well respected by her colleagues as a smart manager who always knew what she was doing.
However, Gina’s life was about to change for the worst.
Gina met a gentleman named Alex Chambers at an HNI (High Networth Individual) event. The event had the who’s who of the corporate world. Gina’s reputation preceded her and soon she was being approached by people seeking her advice on strategies, exchanging contact cards, offering her consulting opportunities, etc. Then came Alex Chambers, a flamboyant man with an air of ambition, power, and magnetism. Gina was captivated by him at once. He introduced himself as a venture capitalist who funded ideas and businesses and helped entrepreneurs scale their startups. Alex asked Gina if she was interested in starting something of her own and at once Gina fell for his trap.
Alex Chambers had studied people for decades. He knew that someone like Gina, a working mother, and a driven and passionate professional would have definitely thought about starting something of her own. He played on exactly this and conned Gina into starting something with him. Strangely, despite being an investor himself, he asked Gina to invest her own money stating that this was the initial stage to secure funding and earn the trust of his business partners. Once they started the business, he assured her he would return her investment and invest his own money to scale up her business. Alex had earned Gina’s trust over a month by becoming friendly with her family. He talked about his vineyards in France, his vacation home in Italy and insisted they visit when the children have their holidays.
Finally, the day came when Gina wired $ 2.5 million into Alex’s account. When Gina called him to confirm the transfer, Alex said he had received it and was excited to begin their new venture together. He was making a trip to Dubai to consult his Board of Directors and would be back in a week. That was the last Gina ever heard of or from Alex Chambers.
Incessant phone calls, e-mails, texts remained unanswered. Gina and her husband ran background checks, something they should have done sooner, but in vain. Alex’s website had been taken down, his number had been blocked and so was his e-mail ID. Gina ran from door to post trying to make sense of this horrifying situation. In the end, Gina accepted that she had been taken for a ride and conned for millions of dollars which were her hard-earned money.
It is very unfortunate if you, or someone close to you, has been the victim of a conspiracy by a con artist. Con artists are cunning individuals without any conscience. All they care about is making a quick buck at any cost. It is best to avoid such people beforehand. However, not everybody can spot con artists at once.
Top 5 signs to identify a con artist before it’s too late:
1. Exaggeration and extravagance
Con artists need people to notice them and think highly of them so they can set a trap. Con artists will usually appear larger than life; they will dress, speak, eat, drink in a way that makes them appear sophisticated and rich. Next, they will make their move and become friendly with unsuspecting victims who will gladly befriend them. After all, who wouldn’t want rich and powerful friends and acquaintances?
2. Garner false sympathy
A con artist may not only appear as rich and powerful, they can also appear as people who are needy depending on how they choose their victims. If they want to con a working-class person into trusting them, they will employ techniques to gain sympathy from them and then money. Many con artists also play on the emotions of people, for example, making their victims fall in love with them, become emotionally attached, promise marriage, and then take off with their money and belongings.
3. Being over-friendly
A con artist will get to know you and become extremely friendly with you. They will flatter you and act like your closest friend. They will even be there for you in times of need (without really meaning it). If someone fairly new to you suddenly goes out of their way to solve all your problems, that’s a sign to look out for. Con artists do this to earn your trust and then emotionally blackmail you to do exactly what they want.
4. They are secretive
Con artists will act high and mighty in public and when they are alone with you. However, when you start to dig into their personal lives, they will try their best to not say too much. If you find that someone is avoiding questions about their personal life e.g. spouse, business partners, or where they live but expect you to divulge everything – that’s a sure-shot sign of something fishy.
5. Dubious financial schemes
Con artists are hungry for money. They will constantly talk about how much they make and encourage people to invest in their business to get rich. However, they will have no clear evidence to show what that business is or what they do. They will also name people who cannot be reached or accessed easily as their business partners to cover their tracks. A classic example of a con artist is Anthony Gignac who posed as a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia for years and conned scores of people!
The world is increasingly becoming a dangerous place. If we are not careful, things can take a turn for the worse. Con artists are criminals who play on our insecurities and get what they want out of us. In most cases, it’s money. In this blog, we discussed some signs to help you identify a con artist. It is very important to keep our eyes and ears open to anyone and everyone we meet. Don’t take people at face value. Dig deeper to know more about them. You never know who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing waiting to take undue advantage.
So, if you notice that things don’t add up about a certain someone, call them out immediately. Keep friends and family in the loop and in extreme cases don’t be afraid to do the right thing by reporting them to the right authorities. You will be doing yourself and many other unsuspecting innocent people a huge favor. Take care!