Monday, April 25, 2016

It's a Con's Life

When digging into any new project, I make a well-intended effort to do some research. I research the general topic of the story. I research things I may want my MC to have -- skills, lifestyle, mannerisms, etc. I research setting info, historical references, plausible murder scenarios, and oh, the list goes on. Yes, I do make a well-intended effort ... at driving myself crazy! It's a writer thing, after all. 

So. Here it is, the kind of weirdness my over-stimulated, over-imaginative brain comes up with late at night when I should be getting sleep. I want to write about cons. Yes. A murder mystery/suspenseful thriller/slightly comedic/insane novel series about con artists. Don't judge me. The idea has merit. AND it just so happens to be very trendy right now. (Insert evidence: Evanovich/Goldberg -- The Heist; Ally Carter -- Heist Society; TV series -- The Catch ... just to name a few). Besides, I enjoy writing such fun stuff. Humor is my thing, which I must indulge on occasion. 

Anyway, back to research. I found lots online about con artists, con jobs, heists, famous cons, names for schemes, tips to run a con, and even how to figure out if your significant other is a con in disguise. Okay, scratch "in disguise". It's redundant because ALL con artists are in disguise. It's what they do. They lie, but they convince you they are telling you nothing but the truth. They always say the right thing, romance you, please you.They are the original Smooth Operators. (Sade song reference fits well here.) So what if they are notorious liars and thieves? They do have a code of con ethics. Yep. You heard me. Cons have ethics. Well, not in the normal sense you and I have ethics, but the rules exist. Like, never con an honest person. Or, never keep secrets from your con family. I find it hard to believe that last one. I mean, they lie. Right?

Oh, and cons have their own how-to book. For instance, when focusing on a mark (that's the victim, in case you don't know con jargon) you should look for his/her weakness. It could be greed, loneliness, insecurity, and other traits easy to manipulate. You need to know everything about your mark. Their habits, likes, dislikes, family, job, even which side of the bed they sleep on, if it helps you pull off the con. Everything. Things as simple as how you should always control the conversation, all while making your mark think HE controls the conversation. Geesh

But wait. I'm not finished. I found a long and exhaustive list of the types of cons used. Yes. They have names. Like Badger Game where the mark is put in a compromising position, then the con takes pictures and blackmails the mark. Or Salting the Mine when a con plants valuable gems in the mine to convince the mark it's worth the investment. There is Mellon Drop, and Pigeon Drop, and Three Card Monte. So many to choose from! Does your head hurt yet? Mine does. I'm sure you've all heard of Cat Phishing. It's been in the news a lot. Where someone friends you on the internet, pretending to be someone he/she is not, getting you to fall in love, and probably ready to scam you for money. "Oh yes. I want to come to America and be with you, but I don't have the money. My family is poor. All we have are the chickens and the goats to trade. Please send money so I can come and we can be together, my love." Of course, it's a con and the lonely people (refer to list of weaknesses above) will fall for it. 

This brings me to what I really wanted to write. Hmm. I do take the long way around, don't I? So, with my over-stimulated, over-imaginative brain running full throttle during this research, I began to wonder what if I've been conned? Or how easily I could be, given the right circumstance and a very cagey, shifty, perhaps gorgeously handsome con artist tempting me. It could happen. They say senior citizens are the prey of con schemes like insurance fraud, fake contests, home improvement scams, etc, and all ready to be cheated out of those meager social security and pension checks. Only takes a bit of naivete and a kind-hearted soul to fall for it. 

Well, let me say this lady is a little wiser after gathering all the con-wise info. I'll just give a twist to Tip Number 2 from the how-to-con manual: Do your research and learn everything about your ... con. I may be kind-hearted and older, but I'm not stupid. At least I hope not! Okay, back to learning about a con's life and "scheming" ways to write this story! Should be fun. :-)

Happy reading and writing, all! Enjoy your week. I'm off to Medina Library on Saturday the 30th for a super author expo. If you're a local, come visit with me. We'll talk mystery, murder, and stuff about cons. ;-)

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