Before I start adding posts covering my research into business opportunities that do and do not work, I want to publish one more warning about how easy it is to fall for simple scams if we are not totally on the lookout at all times.

I was watching the old film Paper Moon last night, with Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. I remember watching this film at school when it first came out in 1973 and being as fascinated by the simple scams being conducted as I am now by the supposedly complex frauds that we suffer today.

Bust has anything really changed? Apart from the theft of some illegal alcohol there were propbably three different scams in the film:

1. By reading the obituary column of a local paper, the con merchants were able to turn up at a widow’s house and pretend that the deceased had ordered an expensive bible for her before the untimely death. So taken aback by the thoughfulnes of the former husband the widow was only too willing to part with $10 or $20 for the cheap $1 book.

2. The scam merchant buys something for a few cents in a shop and pays using a $20 bill. Shortly later his accomplice visits the shop (in the film an endearing 9 year old Tatum O’Neil) and buys some ribbon for a few cents using a $5 note. On being given her change of $4 and some coins she promptly burst into tears claiming that she paid with a $20 that her Aunt had given her for her birthday – which she could prove because it had “Happy Birthday” written on it. Of course there it was in the till (left by Ryan previously) and who could refuse to reimburse the little girl?

3. “Dropping some ones” – swapping dollar notes for fives with the confused shopkeeper was not so much fraud as sleight of hand.

Simple tricks against unsophisticated people perhaps, but we still fall for similar cons perpetrated on much larger scales. Have you ever had a call from a publisher wanting to know if you would support a good cause, a charity perhaps, and obtain valuable business exposure at the same time. This is what support publishing is all about. Con men are simply playing on the heartstrings, very few people reject charitable requests easily.

One thing that the film does illustrate clearly is that people do not always fall for the fraudster out of greed, as is often the case. They often fall because they think they are doing some good

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