Here are 10 commandments for aspiring con men, by notorious swindler Victor Lustig:
- Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
- Never look bored.
- Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
- Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
- Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
- Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
- Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
- Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
- Never be untidy.
- Never get drunk.
Fascinating. Smart, too, when you think about it.
And the more you think about it, the more it becomes clear that the con man you assumed to be a pro is actually a sloppy hack, with goals that can never be fully realized because of an inability to perform list items 1 and 8, and quite possibly 10.