The long con refers to any of a variety of cons which require more planning, preparation, a longer window of interaction with the con's target, the mark, and a longer period of time to execute. The long con may also require a large crew or a larger number of involved people to pull off the deception needed to relieve the mark of their cash or other valuables. Unlike a short con, the long con requires time to slowly draw the mark or marks into the con, but often results in very large pay-outs. Because of the difficulty in organization and execution, long cons are considered to be for experts, not the province of new, young con men.
Traditionally, the term "long con" has referred to an elaborate con of one or more marks which ends with the payout, when the marks surrender their money or valuables. Long cons play on one or both basic human frailties: greed and desperation, both qualities are also usually found in the mark. A classic example of a traditional long con is "The Wire Scam", as shown in the film The Sting. Contemporary long cons such as boiler rooms, cash-for-gold, or Ponzi (pyramid) schemes involve multiple marks, often in sizable numbers, and a gradual payout, but are able to stay in place for long periods of time because of their seeming legitimacy. The line between a genuine long con and garden variety fraud may be a fine one, such as in the case of Bernard Madoff's elaborate security fraud.
The Players in the ConEdit
There are three key players in any long con: a victim, a con artist, and one or more associates.
- The Mark: The intended victim of
- The Grifter: A practitioner of confidence tricks, or more informally, a con artist. A grifter may play many roles, and often creates multiple personas over their career.
- The Shill: An accomplice to the grifter, who has no apparent connection to the con. Shills are put in place to encourage the mark to act in the desired way.
A long con is executed in one or two settings: a real world setting, or an empty room, known as a big store set up to look like a real world setting, such as a stock trading room. For a long con to work, it requires a team of grifters, which play a variety of roles. Some players may be experts at one role, others can change them up as the con demands.
- The Roper: The member of the crew who identifies the mark, and lures the mark in. The roper usually begins by finding a way to get close to the mark, insinuating himself into the mark's life. Slowly, he or she makes the con sound enticing by offering the mark what he seems to want, leading up to an introduction to the inside man. From there, the roper's job is to keep the mark interested. He or she may create the illusion they are a participant in whatever opportunity the con offers the mark. The roper is often an older man with the appearance of affluence or an enticing woman, who embodies what the mark aspires to: wealth and the attention of a beautiful woman.
- The Inside Man: The crew member in charge, who executes the con.
- The Fixer: Often works near, but not close, to The Inside Man, as back-up and coordinate resources as the con unfolds. This is probably the most versatile role in the con, and the person has to have a combination of skills, from Grifting to Hitting. Often this person will wear more than one alias during the con, so they need to be easy for the Mark to forget.
- The Face: A shill, generally an attractive female used to distract or encourage the mark.
- The Outside Man: This could be a potential threat (as a fake Law Enforcement Official) or a potential fake target for the Mark to exploit, to gain the Mark's confidence.
- The Floater: A secondary Inside Man, who can work in conjunction on The Mark, or work a secondary angle on the same con.
Other Specialized RolesEdit
Specialized players may be hired on an as needed basis, but are not part of a regular crew. These may also be secondary roles regular crew members play if they have the appropriate skills.
- The Forger: Some cons require forgeries to fool the Mark.
- The Thief/Greaseman: Some cons require a person skilled in security infiltration, and not just a pickpocket.
- The Hacker: As cons become more and more highly technical, a crew might need an expert in cyber-security. These roles also allow a fixer to work in more of a tech-support role behind the scenes, in support of the crew members in the field.
- The Wheelman: Some cons require a good person behind the wheel of a car, who is good at both tailing a mark, or running from Law Enforcement.
- The Bagman: Some cons require someone to handle the money.