A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle or bamboozle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, grifter, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as plants. Confidence men or women exploit characteristics of the human psyche such as greed, both dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté, and the thought of trying to get something of value for nothing or for something far less valuable. Confidence men or women have victimized individuals from all walks of life.
Vulnerability to confidence tricks
Confidence tricks exploit typical human qualities such as greed, dishonesty, vanity, honesty, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility and naïveté. The common factor is that the victim (mark) relies on the good faith of the con artist.
Just as there is no typical profile for swindlers, neither is there one for their victims. Virtually anyone can fall prey to fraudulent crimes. ... Certainly victims of high-yield investment frauds may possess a level of greed which exceeds their caution as well as a willingness to believe what they want to believe. However, not all fraud victims are greedy, risk-taking, self-deceptive individuals looking to make a quick dollar. Nor are all fraud victims naïve, uneducated, or elderly.
A greedy or dishonest mark may attempt to out-cheat the con artist, only to discover that he or she has been manipulated into losing from the very beginning.
Shills, also known as accomplices, help manipulate the mark into accepting the con man's plan. In a traditional confidence trick, the mark is led to believe that he will be able to win money or some other prize by doing some task. The accomplices may pretend to be strangers who have benefited from performing thetask in the past.