Rip-Off Alert | How to spot a scam and not fall for a con artist's tricks

Learn how to spot a scam and not fall for a con artist's tricks. (KSNV file)

Con artists are master manipulators who steal millions of dollars based on peoples' trust.

They sell us hope, and shockingly, even the smartest among us willingly hand over our money and trust, leading to financial ruin.

Would you fall for a con man?

Lots of people fell for former football star Art Schlichter and his supposed ticket resale business -- a story told on CNBC's American Greed.

People paid millions to get in on the action, but it was a scam to feed his gambling addiction.

They lost their money and he wound up in federal prison for fraud.

"You know the con in con man stands for confidence because that's the first thing he takes from his victims. How do they do it? It's not rocket science. Experts say to look for a few telltale signs.

"It's very difficult to be logical when you're also emotional," said Maria Konnikova.

Konnikova is the author of "The Confidence Game," a book about why we fall for con artists.

She says fraudsters first figure out what makes us tick and use that to get us emotionally aroused.

The con artist then uses tricks of persuasion like overloading us with information, then pushing us to make decisions, using the phrase "and that's not all!" when explaining a deal.

They also try to gain our affections with over-the-top flattery and charm.

"If they were sleazy, if they seemed like a used car salesman like the stereotype of them, they wouldn't be good con artists. We would never fall for them," said Konnikova.

Scammers know people in transition are most likely to fall for their tricks.

So if you're going through a divorce, marriage, or move, don't let your guard down. Otherwise, the con man will have you right where he wants you.

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