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The Art of the Con

How we can avoid falling prey to con men such as Bernard Madoff
magazine cover

On a Los Angeles street corner in 2000, I was the “inside man” in a classic con game called the pigeon drop. A magician named Dan Harlan orchestrated it for a television series I cohosted called Exploring the Unknown (type “Shermer, con games” into Google). Our pigeon was a man from whom I asked directions to the local hospital while Dan (the “outside man”) moved in and appeared to find a wallet full of cash on the ground. After it was established that the wallet belonged to neither of us and appeared to have about $3,000 in it, Dan announced that we should split the money three ways. (continue reading…)

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