How to Spot a Con

How to Spot a Con;  What’s the difference between a Con Artist and a Salesman?

 by Dave Cottrell

Knowing how to spot a con artist at work, rather than someone who is an honest salesman can be tricky when the pressure is on.  You need to educate yourself.  You need to protect yourself from the sad consequences of the con artist’s deception.How to Spot a Con

I remember watching a movie, called, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” a Paramount production of a John Hughes comedy starring John Candy and Steve Martin

The ever amiable John Candy played the role of a chatterbox shower curtain ring salesman, while Steve Martin played the part of a miserable and humorless businessman. Both men were trying to get home for Thanksgiving, but the odds seem very much to be against that happening.

Finding themselves short of funds, and desperate to get home against all odds, the two mismatched traveling companions need a plan.  While the businessman struggled to create a logical plan, the salesman hawked shower curtain rings as anything but what they were, in an airport terminal, for $5 to $10 a pair. 

Who would pay so much money for a pair of shower curtain rings?  Nobody would!  But Candy’s character didn’t sell them as curtain rings. He sold them as what appealed to the emotion and ego of the marks… excuse me… prospects… 

People bought them as earring, nose rings and what have you, because the quick talking, soft-spoken, polite, friendly con man…  excuse me, there I go again… I meant salesman, spoke to their emotions rather than their intellect. 

Such begs the question…

What is the difference between a con artist and a salesman? 

In simplest form, con artists appeal to the emotions of their marks. They focus on the benefits to you of buying into what they’re selling. Very little is actually said about buying – the emphasis is steadily and repeatedly on the benefits, building up the excitement until the mark is practically pleading for the way to turn over the cash. 

Great salesmen do exactly the same thing.   Did you notice that?  Their methods of getting you to close the deal are the same.  So what’s different?

This kind of emotional buildup is what’s called “hype.”  It hypes up your emotions;  that is, it leads you to a point of emotional hyperactivity that overrides your normal reason if you’re not careful, and ends up with you having less money than before. how to spot a con

It is at this point where the line gets drawn between the con artist and the salesman. The con artist takes your money and you end up poorer, end of story. The salesman, on the other hand, exchanges something with you for your money, meaning that you have something in place of the money. 

Here is where doing your due diligence comes in. You need to keep your emotions under control or you won’t be able to tell the difference between the con artist and the salesman. Their methods are identical. 

You need to maintain your calm and common sense.  Focus on the actual value being delivered.  Once you part with your money, it’s too late. You can try to chase the crook, but that takes time, you may never catch him, and the chances are you’ll never see your money again for all the efforts you put into retrieving it.

Always take the time to find out if an offer is legitimate BEFORE turning over your money. 

Think about it.  When you’re sitting at your computer with the hype set in type on your screen in front of you, you have a tremendous advantage. You can make a decision right now, even as you read this article, that whenever you see something that really appeals to you on that screen, you’re going to bookmark it, close the website or email, and look at it again tomorrow.   

In other words, sleep on it!

I can almost hear some readers saying, “Oh, I can’t do that because there’s a time limit, and it will all be gone tomorrow!” 

Guess what… trust me on this… it WON’T be gone tomorrow. Just go looking for ANY product or service that’s being offered right now with a deadline, perhaps even with a counter that’s counting down the hours, minutes and seconds. Do what I said, and save it, close it, and come back after the deadline. What will you see? You’ll see same counter with a brand new deadline! 

The reality is that I can get the software to create a deadline for anyone who comes to any of my pages. A good one, which I can get for absolutely no charge, will set a cookie on your computer and start it’s own special and unique countdown, just for you. There are so many variations of what you can do with this software, but just remember this… It’s a TRICK, designed to raise your emotional sense of imminent loss if you don’t act quickly. 

Always remember: if an offering really is good, it will still be there another day. If it’s not, it wasn’t any good anyway. The “Deal of a Lifetime” that can’t wait another day is HIGH RISK. Don’t go there.   Good things last and retain their value.

Try this next time you come across an absolutely “smokin’” deal on SEO software or something similar, billed as the latest and greatest thing to fill your pockets with gold.  Close the website.

(If you’re worried about losing it or missing the deal, open the same page in another window, then close that window.)

I the vast majority of cases, today, you will discover, even with software that really IS good, that you get a better deal when you do this.  If you had jumped on the first payment window, you would have paid too much.  But wait, there’s more!  Close the second page, and often times you will get yet another even better deal.  Keep trying until the page really does close.  Then sleep on it and check back another day.  It will still be there.

Beware of the “limited number of copies” scam… pardon my rudeness… trick.  How can the manufacturer of the software run out?  Here is a virtually iron clad guarantee:  if the software is selling at the price the supplier is asking, he’s not going to stop selling it!  The only reason any of these guys stop selling software is because nobody is buying it any more.

How many years has Windows been selling?  How many years has accounting software been selling?  How much longer do you think this kind of software is going to keep on selling?  What would your reaction be if Microsoft or Simply Accounting resorted to the same tactics as some of the con artists online?  You simply wouldn’t believe it, would you.

Don’t believe it from these guys, either.  Not all are con artists.  Some are great salesmen, but their tactics are the same.  They want to get you emotionally charged up enough to buy right now at top dollar.

But you can help protect yourself from the con artists by closing the sales page and sleeping on it.  If it is the site of an honest salesman, even if his sales methods may not be as ethical as they could be, the site and the offer will still be there, so you have nothing to lose by waiting.

But if it’s a con, you will have had a chance to calm down and due some real due diligence, thereby protecting yourself from simply having your money stolen.

As the sergeant on the TV series, “Hill Street Blues” used to say, “Be careful.  It’s a jungle out there.”

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One comment

  • I have always been leery of those people who come across as hawkers with their “buy me” attitude and normally people will spot these cons a mile away, but for those people who tend to get caught up in the “frenzy” or who are impulse buyers, then your suggestion and good advise of walking away and thinking is very wise.

    I have no issues with upsells or down sells for that matter IF and only if they are done with the consumer in mind and is a very successful way to create sales.

    To further that thinking

    Upsells are good if the product or service is related to what your “core” product is and IF it is quality merchandise. I would add that the best way to do an upsell is to have it after the person has gone through the check out process and to create upsells through a form of “drip” marketing emails.

    Downsells are something that many “seedy” marketers use, which bothers me considering that a down sell was never meant to be done in that manner. To me a proper downsell is because a person cant afford a product and you offer them payment plans or offer a cheaper alternative that maybe doesn’t have all the whoo dee doo features but will be still very functional useful.

    At the end of the day people have got to start asking questions and think about what they are doing…I don’t care who you are, everyone has a budget, everyone has to start looking at those shiny things with more objectiveness and remembering that not all that glitters is gold
    On the side of business, learn to think about your customers as real people and start “listening” to their customers in terms of what they really need to help solve their “problem”.

    P.S> I loved that movie by the way, so thanks for a trip down memory lane lol
    John Candy and Steve Martin in Planes,Trains and Automobiles
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