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How to Cheat at Everything: an encyclopedia of cons


Back in 2007, I reviewed a great book called How to Cheat at Everything, by Simon Lovell. Lovell's book, nominally a guide to committing fraud, was really a tremendous catalog of all the ways that we get conned -- all the deceptive psychology that goes into cons long and short. It's a book that's simultaneously paranoid and liberating, and I've turned to it several times in the years since. I'm not the only one -- I still get email from people who found it through my review, years later. So I thought I'd revisit it today -- including the colorful notes about Lovell that readers sent in back in 2007.

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DragonCon parts with Ed Kramer

DragonCon has separated from its founder, Ed Kramer, who has been awaiting trial for sex crimes involving minors, and who received a large annual payout from the event. His continued financial interest in the event has been controversial for some time. Cory 4

Ten more sucker-bets you can't lose!

Richard Weisman has updated his marvellous video of unloseble sucker bets with ten more bar-bets you can't lose. Life skills!

10 more amazing bets you will always win

Life-sized edible Stormtrooper cake


Pziselberger sez, "This was done by Oak Leaf Cakes, for the Arisia Science Fiction Convention in Boston. It is a 6'4" tall, edible Storm Trooper."

Golden-age short-change cons

While some of the techniques laid out in "Tricks of Short Change Artists," from the Oct, 1930 issue of Modern Mechanix may have shifted over the years, the principles remain largely unchanged. I could read about con artists all day long -- I've only been conned once (that I know about), but I still reel with the knowledge that someone managed to pull off a trick that combined conjuring, social engineering, and connivery to separate me from a small-to-mid-sized wad of cash.
Organized short-changing of filling station attendants is becoming common and it is evident that there are a great many artists engaged in this branch of the business. The tricks are many and varied. One favorite is to offer a twenty in payment of a bill. On getting the change, the stranger will count it over and discover that five or ten dollars are missing. The method is to fold over the five or ten and hold it between two fingers underneath another large bill in one hand, while asking the station attendant to count the change in the other hand. This trick has been the means of cheating a great many oil station men. The loss is # seldom discovered until check-up time at night.

Another method of making change appear "short" a bill of any denomination is the use of a clever sleeve attachment. It is merely an elastic running up the coat sleeve; at the end is a spring paper-fastener. The con man merely sends one bill from his change up his sleeve, and the dealer can, of course, see no method of accounting for the loss excepting the most obvious one. that he has made a mistake!

Tricks of Short Change Artists (Oct, 1930)