Con Artist: A bamboozler, bilker, bunco, cheater, clip artist, con man, crook, deceiver, fleecer, flim-flammer, fraud, hoser, hustler, mountebank, scam artist, scammer, shark, sharpie, smoothie, swindler, cheat, deluder, dissimulator, equivocator, fabler, fabricator, fabulist, false witness, falsifier, fibber, jive turkey, maligner, misleader, perjurer, phony, prevaricator, promoter, storyteller and a trickster.



This glossary lists all of the phrases and terms that con artists use. Many are relics, old time lingo from the 1930s that no self respecting con artist would use. However, since they still appear in film and popular fiction, they are included here.

1 3 2 6 Systems: A betting system for gamblers that claims to win $120 from a $20 wager. It does not work.

419: The US criminal code for Advance Fee Fraud and a nickname for the scam.

Account Flash: A large amount of money that appears in a victim's account for a short period of time. Usually through a bad cheque. Used in Advance Fee Fraud.

Addict: A mark who keeps coming back to be scammed.

Advance Fee Fraud: Promising a victim a large sum of money if they invest a small amount of money.

Affinity Fraud: Targeting victims who share the same race/religion/culture/politics as the victim. One of Victor Lustig's Ten Commandments Of The Con Artist.

Alibi: A carnival game that is hard to beat but not impossible.

Akwukwo: A fake cheque. Used by Nigerian Letter Scamers.

Bar Bet: An unusual wager usually performed in a bar.

The Belt: Another name for the gambling game Fast and Loose.

Beijing Tea Scam: A scam in which con artists overcharge victim's for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

Betting Systems: Techniques to beat a game of chance by changing the amount of bets. These do not work.

Big Mitt: A fixed poker game.

Big Store: A fake shop, betting house, office or similar environment, set up by the con artist.

Block Game: The shell game played with hollow blocks.

Block Out: To crowd a troublesome member of the public out of a gambling game. E.g. Three Card Monte.

Blow: An accomplice losing money in a rigged game.

Blow Off: Getting rid of an victim.

Bonneteau: Another name for the game of Three Card Monte.

Bottom Dealer (1): A card cheat who deals from the top of the deck instead of the bottom.

Bottom Dealer (2): A sland term for any criminal or person of low ethical standards.

Boiler Room: A high pressure telemarketing sales room.

Boiler-Net Room: An online boiler room targeting forums and chat services.

Box Job: Safe cracking

Bunk (1): To fool or scam some one

Bunk (2): To leave

Cackle Bladder: A method by which a con artist might fake his death. A small bag of chicken blood that the con artist pops when 'stabbed' or 'shot'.

Cackle Bladder: Any death faked for the purposes of a scam.

Camera-Hugger: A tourist, particularly one who is a potential victim.

Catcher: The con artist who first found the victim. Particularly in the Nigerian Letter Scam.

Cellar Man: A card cheat who deals from the bottom of the deck instead of the top.

Click Fraud: Clicking on 'pay-per-click' advertisments without an interest in the product or service.

Chain letter: A pyramid scheme in which new recipients of a letter pay old recipients.

Chase The Ace: Another name for the game of Three Card Monte.

Chuggers: Charity 'Muggers' who appear to be collecting for a charity but actual take all or some of the money for themselves.

Chuck-a-Luck: A crooked dice game played with three dice.

Chump Change: Small amounts of scammed money.

Cool Off: Calming down a victim so they do not call the police

Come On: An apparent advantage for the victim to encourage them to take part in the scam.

Cop: An accomplice winning money to prove a rigged game can be beaten.

Crew: A group of con artists

Croupier: The person who runs a gambling game. e.g. dealer

Daub: A way of marking cards on the fly.

Dippers: A type of pickpocket.

Drag In A Mark: Secure a potential victim. See also Roper.

Educated: A victim or con artist who knows and understands a scam.

Fall mugu: To bed fooled by the Nigerian Letter Scam.

False Shuffle: To shuffle the cards without actually change their order.

Fast and Loose: A crooked game of chance using a chain.

Fight Store: A kind of long con where the mark is convinced to bet on 'fixed' boxing match.

Find The Lady: Another name for the game of Three Card Monte.

Fine wirers: A very good pickpocket.

Flash (1): Colourful, expensive prizes to bring players to carnival games.

Flash (2): To accidentally reveal a cheating move.

Flimp: A type of pickpocket.

Fly Gee: An outsider who knows the scam.

Fool's Errand: Sending a victim to find something that does not exist e.g. stripped paint.

Fourree: Fake currency

Front: A legitmate business or person used to cover illegal dealings.

Freak: A carnival performer born with a interesting skill or characteristic. e.g. bearded lady or man with four legs.

Gaff: A device used for cheating.

Geek: A sideshow performer with no skill who debases himself for money. E.g. a junkie who bites the heads off rats.

Goon Squad: The hired muscle used when the scam goes sour.

Grift (1): To con.

Grift (2): A group of con artists. "He was a member of a grift"

Guyman: A con artist who engages in the Nigerian Letter Scam.

Handler: The leader of a group of con artists.

Hankie Switch: Switching a victim's money for worthless paper, often in a hankie.

Hook: An apparent advantage for the victim to encourage them to take part in the scam.

Hütchenspieler: The German for The Shell Game

Ice: A bribe or payment. e.g. police, city officals

Inside Man: The con artist who actually performs the scam

Jamaican Switch: Switching a victim's money for worthless paper, often in a hankie.

Joint: The venue for a scam. e.g. the tent that a carnival game is played in.

Lebanese Loop: The piece of equipment inserted into ATMS to steal cards.

Long Con: A scam that takes a longer time to commit and targets one person for extended periods.

Lustig, Victor: A con artist famous for selling the eiffel tower and fake money making machines.

Maltooler: A bus or train pickpocket.

Mark: A potential victim. The word is supposedly from the chalk mark that con artists once put on potential victim's shoulders to communicate to their crew that the victim had been picked.

Martingale System: A gambling system where a gambler doubles his bet everytime he loses. It doesn't work.

Mechanic: An expert card cheat - particularly skilled at sleight of hand.

Mob: A group of con artists or criminals (Victorian England)

Mobsman: A pickpocket or con artist

Money Laundering: Running the proceeds of crime through a legitmate business to hide it's source.

Monkey Paw: A device for removing money from slot/poker machines.

Mosqueta: The Shell Game in some Spanish speaking countries.

Mugu: A victim of the Nigerian Letter Scam. (Also- Maga, mahi, magha, mahee, mayi, mayee)

Oga: The boss of the Nigerian Letter Scam

Old Army Game: A slang term for Fast and Loose, Three Card Monte and The Shell Game

On The Barrel Head: Another name for the gambling game Fast and Loose.

Outside Man: The shill who brings the victim to the scam.

Owner: The con artist who found or started a scam, even if others take over. Used in the Nigerian Letter Scam

Paper Hanging: Presenting fake or bad cheques.

Penny and Dime Scam (1): Pretending rolls of pennies are actually rolls of dimes.

Penny and Dime Scam (2): A very small scam with a small take.

Pepito Paga Dobla: The Shell Game in Chilie. Spanish for "Little Peter Pays Double"

Pigeon Drop: A variation of Advance Fee Fraud.

Pharming: Stealing a victim's personal information via spyware

Phishing: Convincing a victim via email to give up personal information.

Ponzi Scheme: Paying off old investors in a scheme with money from new investors.

Pricking The Garter: Another name for the gambling game Fast and Loose.

Putting In The Fix: Stopping a victim calling the police. e.g. making the victim feel guilty.

Pyramid Scheme: A sales scheme where old victims must find new victims to join in order to make money.

Propositional Bet: Another name for a Bar Bet.

Reloading: Scamming a victim for a second time.

Run: An illegal activity. Used in the Nigerian Letter Scam.

Queer (1): Fake or counterfiet.

Queer (2): To expose or ruin. "That cop just queered our pitch"

Rag: A stockmarket scam

Rube: A potential victim in a carnival setting

Roper: A con artist who finds victims.

Score (verb): To obtain money or winnings.

Score (noun): The proceeds of a scam.

Slide: Run away. If a con artist yells 'slide', his crew knows to run for it!

Sliders: Look outs for the police.

Slugs: Fake coins.

Slum: Cheap carnival prizes.

Shade: Misdirection to perform a scam

Shell Game: A crooked gambling game where the victim must find a pea under a shell.

Shill: A confederate of the con artist who may act like a friend or peer of the victim.

Shiner: A reflective surface that a card cheat may use to glimpse another player's cards.

Short Con: A scam that takes little time, little resources and people but only makes a small amount of money,

Smurf: Someone who regularly launders money.

Snipe Hunt: Sending a victim to find something that does not exist e.g. stripped paint.

Spanish Prisoner: the original name for Advance Fee Fraud. Also a film about con artists starring Steve Martin.

Spinner: A coin which always lands on heads (or tails).

Stack: To arrange playing cards into a particular order to affect the outcome of a game. e.g. every fourth card is an ace will give the con artists four of a kind in a four player game.

Sting: The moment where the con artist takes the victim's money. Also a film about con artists starring Robert Redford.

Stooge: A confederate of the con artist.

Steerer: The first con artist the victim has contact with. See also "Owner" and "Outside Man"

Subway Man: A card cheat who deals from the bottom of the deck instead of the top.

Three Card Monte: A crooked card game played on the street.

Tossing Broads: Another name for the game of Three Card Monte.

Trile: The Shell Game in Spain

Trileros: Con artists who play The Shell Game in Spain

True Believer Syndrome: The inability for victims to accept they have been scammed. Particularly prevalent in Psychics, Swamis and even Advance Fee Fraud. See also Addict.

Vishing: Convincing a victim via the phone to give up their personal information.

Wire: A telegraph scam where race results are delayed to allow late betting.

For more carnival lingo - visit Welcome To The Fair.
For more investment fraud terms - visit Dictionary of Finacial Scam Terms.

Created by Nicholas J. Johnson
Australia's Honest Con Man
www.conman.com.au