As long as there has been money, there have been those who have taken it where it does not belong to them, be this by means of mugging, robbery, or picking pockets. Others, however, have taken a less confrontational or violent route, thus giving birth to a number of devious ways in which to part a person from their money.
A con artist, or confidence trickster, may use an elaborate scheme, convincing a person to willingly hand over their money, perhaps for a promise that more would ultimately be returned to them, or for reassurance that the money would go to a good cause. There are almost unlimited schemes that may used, some simple, others that may take months to set up, and months more to do effectively, the deciding factor generally being how much money may be stolen. Simple cons involve such things as asking for money to take care of a sick family member, while more complicated cons can be as devious as convincing a person to invest in a non existent business venture.
What Is A Shill?
In any kind of con, a number of tricksters may work together in order to be more effective. If trying to convince a person to buy a worthless item for an inflated price, for example, it may sway the target’s mind by having a second person pretend to be interested in that same item. Noticing that another person sees value in the item, the target may be persuaded to buy it themselves. This second con artist is referred to a as a shill, and is a common aspect of many cons.
A shill may be used in many other circumstances, however, many of which are even mostly legal. In casinos a shill may sit at a table with real gamblers, encouraging high betting by behaving in a reckless manner, or perhaps befriending them and giving questionable gambling advice. A street vendor may use a similar technique, having a friend buy up items in view of real customers, expressing to them how great a deal it is.
In legal business such a practice often falls in a grey area as far as the law goes, since the person who employed the shill will often accept do so unofficially. In terms of large corporations and deals that are worth a great deal of money, however, the practice is strictly forbidden, and companies can be fined enormous amounts of money.
Online Con Artists
In the online world a shill may be employed to take part in social media websites, passionately endorsing a product and encouraging others to buy it. This is generally not very successful, however, depending on the skill of the person, as a great deal of effort must be made to not seem suspicious in digital space. Often more time then an individual can spare while still being effective on a large scale. Many social media websites will also often ban such activity, and keep out persons who are obviously there to simply sell products. It should be kept in mind, however, that some websites may accept money to slip in advertising on behalf of other companies.