Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How To Con

Allison Schrager talks with a swindler.

It requires avid study of psychology and body language. It's an amazing paradox--a con man has incredible emotional insight, but without the burden of compassion. He must take an intense interest in other people, complete strangers, and work to understand them, yet remain detached and uninvested. That the plan is to cheat these people and ultimately confirm many of their fears cannot be of concern.
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At some point, Mr Lovell realised he could no longer be an effective con artist. Perhaps he pulled one Cross too many. Once, when he visited a victim the day after to "apologise", he found the man crying about his mortgage, wife and kids. Mr Lovell actually felt sorry for him. Sorry enough to return some of the money: "Not all of it. I am not an idiot. But some." This seemed to foretell the end of something. "If you feel sorry you are dead in the water," he warns.

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