The first review of Rob Mond and my documentary on the classic scam Three Disk Monte is in over at TMC. Steven Conner writes:
The documentary is very good IMO and Nicholas has done an amazing job. The wait was long and sometimes seemed uncertain but the result is excellent. I find the disks handle really well in fact, better than cards at least for me. No more bending or re-adjusting. Just get and go. The instructions are excellent and all credits are properly given. As with all cons, magicians don’t always do them justice as with the real people. What can I say about the disks except top notch and the quality is certainly for the worker. These will be something that will be used. Nicholas performing the Bonus was a treat as well. If you haven’t purchased and want a set, I suggest you get your order in as this will become a classic.
There is a perception that con artists have a code of ethics that sets them above the common thieves and thugs.
And yet, in my experience, this is rarely the case.
For most con artists, it’s simply a case of swindling being easier than straight thievery. After all, if the victim gives you his money, it’s a lot simpler than trying to steal it or resorting to violence.
And, I suppose it’s also easier to fool yourself that you’re not a criminal if the victim is, in some way, complicate in the crime.
However, I’ve also heard stories and seen with my own two eyes, con artists resorting to theft, violence and even murder to keep hold of their gains. Take, for example, this story from the police blotter in The Villager newspaper in New York, the spiritual home of the Three Card Monte.
A three-card monte dealer who worked various sidewalk locations on Broadway near Prince St. was arrested Saturday afternoon Oct. 30 for snatching money from the hands of victims, police said. Keith Jackson, 54, urged victims to step closer by saying, “It’s easy, you’ll win. You just need to show me your money,” police said. The suspect grabbed a $100 bill from one victim, $80 from another victim and $500 from a third, according to the complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
What do you think?
Doesn’t snatching people’s cash sounds an awful lot like common theft?
Or was he simply taking what he’d won fair and square in a battle of which from which the victim can off second best?
Regardless of the truth of the matter, it is clear that the ‘rules of grift’ are not as black and white as con artist’s biographies and fictional swindlers would have us believe.