Victor Lustig, born in 1890, was one of the world’s most renowned con men. In 1925, he posed as a French government official, took five businessmen on a tour of the Eiffel Tower and sold it to one of them as scrap metal. This scam worked so well he did it a second time. He once tricked Al Capone out of $5,000. He had 25 aliases, spoke five languages and, by the 1930s, was wanted by 45 law enforcement agencies worldwide.
The following was his advice to aspiring con men.
- Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
- Never look bored.
- Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
- Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
- Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
- Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
- Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
- Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
- Never be untidy.
- Never get drunk.
Click on The World’s Greatest Con Artists: Victor Lustig for more about his career.
Click on Victor Lustig wiki for his Wikipedia biography.
Hat tip to Lists of Note.