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, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills. Confidence men or women exploit human characteristics such as greed and dishonesty, and have victimized individuals from all walks of life.
Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing certain actions or divulging confidential information. While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.
Call them con men, grifters, scammers, or thieves. Or simply call them liars. Lying is what they do best. They stare you in the eyes and lie through their teeth. They do it casually and with such conviction that we have no reason not to believe them. Their craft and skill is a remorseless trait called social engineering, which is also known as pre-texting.
Lying is a learned behavior. One day as children we stumble upon a situation, one that we created or were a party to, and we are confronted by someone in authority. Most likely mom, dad, or a teacher. We are asked a question and we respond with what we think they want to hear, as opposed to the truth. We lie. They believe us and we are relieved of the burden of truth’s consequences.
“They all thought they were helping a woman and her child, but Sanford police say the woman duped them. She cried wolf they said.
They said she knocked on four of her neighbors’ doors with a sob story. Twice she used her toddler to get into their houses. “She asked me ‘help, I need help. My car’s overheating. My baby’s suffocating,'” a victim. “I went into my room and I noticed that my jewelry box was open and everything was gone, I’m nervous. I sleep armed. I can’t sleep,” the unidentified victim said. “You feel stupid at first and you just wish the world wouldn’t be that way.”
Sometime the most effective way to penetrate the most secure system is through someone else’s good nature. It’s always important to help. And, it’s equally important to smell a rat.
Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures