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Friday, December 07, 2007

Con Games

I love movies about con games, from "The Sting" to "Criminal" to "Confidence" to "Matchstick Men" to "House of Games" and on and on. They're even better if the filmmakers are pulling something on us, the viewers, at the same time. First you wonder how anyone could buy the scam, and in the end, you realize that you were in on it and got fooled, too.

From time to time, I hear about a real-life ripoff that's so outrageous, so obviously bogus, so absolutely impossible, I wonder how anyone fell for it. Brent and Stacey Finley pulled off just such a con.

Brent convinced several people in Louisiana that Stacey was a CIA agent, and with her position in the government, could arrange for the use of satellites to do a scan of your body from space to discover any medical problems you didn't know about. Naturally, they'd always find something, but they were ready for the next step, too. Victims were told they could be cured -- that Stacey would have secret agents administer medicine to them while they slept. Of course, all of this high-tech health care was expensive, but they'd take a check, or you could wire the funds into their account.

Remarkably, the Finleys convinced friends, family, and strangers that this scam was for real, and hauled in over $870,000 from their marks! How's that for gullibility?

In the end, Brent and Stacey were busted, and will spend several years behind bars after paying restitution -- but give them some credit for the cleverness of the con.