Altercasting as an influence Tactic
Anthony R. Pratkanis University of California, Santa Cruz
Remember, a con artist can be anyone: your minister, doctor, or travel agent, a loyal employee, business consultant, or janitor, or perhaps, the love of your life. A con artist will play any role in order to win your confidence and trust.
-- Whitlock, ( 1997, p. 25).
Every day, people of all walks of life fall prey to the swindles and scams of con artists. In the United States alone, consumers lose an estimated $40 billion a year to just telemarketing fraud. The successful con artist is one who is skilled at being an impostor, assuming whatever role or identity needed to fleece the mark (or victim). Consider these classic but common con games (see Henderson, 1994; Schulte, 1995; Whitlock, 1994, 1997).
A con and a shill (confederate) play a betting game in which the shill must pick a certain card among three face-down playing cards. The mark watches the game until he or she is lead to "discover" a trick that will guarantee a win--for example, one of the cards is bent slightly or the con always deals in a certain way. Feeling as if he or she is the expert, the mark takes a turn, bets big, and then, of course, loses. Through a sleight of hand, the con had removed the bent card or dealt the cards in a different manner. The mark slinks away embarrassed and with a lighter wallet.