Friday, 17 September 2010

Silencing the victims of fraud is all too easy

The most powerful weapon in the hands of a cheat, is the mind of the cheated. Indeed, without exception, cheats (who have later confessed to their crimes) say that the easiest people to cheat are well-educated types who are totally convinced thatthey cannot be cheated.
A young Frenchman, Christophe Rocancourt , is considered to be one of the most dangerous, individual confidence tricksters of modern times. Even his own 'true' account of his life and crimes is a pack of lies interspersed with grains of truth. When interviewed, Rocancourt, although very frank about his own dishonesty, insists that his victims were crooks motivated out of sheer greed who were probably more to blame than him. Sadly, he has got a point.
Rocancourt was a small-time con-artist from northern France who decided to try his luck in the USA, where his rough Normandy accent went unrecognized, and where he became particularly adept at seducing fabulously-beautiful models and actresses, and buying the friendship of failing Hollywood film stars, to make himself seem like a glamorous member of the international jet set. One of his classic American frauds manipulated the greed of rich people and left them in an impossible position where they couldn't complain without risking public humiliation and prison themselves.
The fraud involved Rocancourt convincing outwardly-respectable individuals (particulary in the entertainment industry) that he was a French member of the Rockefeller family who had access to unlimited quantities of perfect, counterfeit US money which he was prepared to exchange with his friends (at 50% of its fake face value) for authentic cash. He would meet his victims in the most trendy and expensive clubs, hotels and restaurants and buy them meals, drinks, girls, boys, drugs, etc. and always pay for everything with fat wads of crisp cash. During the course of these free orgies, Rocancourt would literally behave as though his money grew on trees, then begin to claim that he was actually using counterfeit hundred dollar bills which were so good that even banks would accept them. The final trick which often convinced sceptical victims, was when Rocancourt gave them some fake hundred dollar bills and took them to the nearest bank for verification. Obviously, his money was genuine, but (for obvious reasons) his victims wanted to believe that it was a perfect fake. Rocancourt would then arrange for his victims to come to a hotel suite and bring him a few hundred thousands genuine dollars to be exchanged for twice the amount in his fake dollars. Once inside this honey trap, Rocancourt simply robbed his victims at gunpoint.
In order for Rocancourt's victims to complain to the police or FBI, they had first to admit that they were greedy dupes who had swallowed an absurd, comic-book story and who had then agreed to commit a major federal crime.
David Brear (Copyright 2010)

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