What is a Grifter?


It is an unfortunate reality that there are people who exist in the world with the purpose of conning other people out of money and property. Criminals whose crimes include credit card fraud, identity theft, and money laundering, known as “grifters,” will use the internet to scam innocent people. Particularly in the digital age of technology, it is important to be hyper-vigilant about the detection of grifting.

Our Raleigh, NC white-collar crime fraud attorneys want to help you avoid being the victim of a grifting scam. If you or someone you know has been tricked, scammed, or conned in the past, you likely know all too well what the term “grifter” means. However, when you have elderly loved ones or other people close to you who have not experienced an internet scam, or if you have not experienced being the victim of criminal scammers yourself, it can be a challenge to identify a swindler.

Knowing the signs to look for when it comes to being the victim of a scam, as well as ways to avoid the swindling of grifters equips you with the knowledge you need to avoid the manipulation of someone who otherwise could possibly steal from you.

What Is A Grifter?

A grifter is another word for a con artist who benefits off of people who trust them as a means to commit petty theft, financial theft, identity theft, and mortgage fraud. Additionally, a grifter might obtain illicit materials by gaining a victim’s trust or having influence over them.

Grifters employ an opportunistic racket, use cunning to execute, and are very good at both the act and execution of their crimes. In this day and age, most Americans use the internet for shopping, banking, and management of financial and personal documents. If we are not extremely careful and observant in knowing the signs to look for when it comes to grifting, it’s possible that any of us might be communicating online with a con artist without knowing it.

Let’s explore some of the signs of people who grift.

Grifters Communicate Persuasively

Grifters and con artists are very proficient with the use of words. They excel at the art of persuasion by convincing you to do something you don’t want to do. They are what is classified as “smooth” and gifted with communication. Often, their verbal skills are combined with fast talking. A grifter talks fast so you have difficulty ascertaining the details. Through the details, however, they may reveal clues to their lies.

Scammers have been known to contact people online or through the phone and pose as professionals collecting money they claim the person owes. They often use language to trick individuals into sharing personal information, like bank account numbers, social security numbers, or other sensitive materials in order to access information that will lead to a payday for them through the theft of money or other goods.

Grifters Offer Help that You Did Not Solicit

The grifter presents you with something you may perceive as being a problem and then offers to solve it. When you are approached by a stranger who wants to “help” you to solve a problem that you didn’t ask for or for a problem you didn’t even know that you had, be dubious.

Sometimes they will perform a service for you, but then want payment in return. For instance, a grifter might claim they are the IRS and collecting money you owe. You can’t help but wonder why you never received notice from the IRS directly or why they are saying you need to deposit money into an account to pay your government tax debts. If something sounds like it doesn’t make sense, seems suspicious, and deals with a problem from a credit or debt collector you’ve never been notified of in the past, it is likely they are attempting to scam you.

Grifters Ask for Small Favors

A grifter may ask you to do something for them as a “favor” or indicate that by “helping” them, it will take you little effort but make a big impact on their situation. Asking for your kindness and generosity by doing something for them, and persisting after you say “no” is a sign that you are dealing with a swindler looking to con you out of money through fraud.

The reason grifters try to talk someone into doing just a “small favor,” is because they believe that people will be more apt to respond affirmatively to something minuscule, even for a stranger, if it takes minimal effort. With a con artist, once you provide a small favor, it can evolve into a larger favor, which was their original intent. Grifters count on you to respond to their lies by talking you into small acts of generosity, knowing they can scam you out of more and more once they know they can manipulate you.

Grifters Create a Sense of Urgency and Ease

Swindlers often try to create a sense of urgency for you to act immediately or make it sound so easy for you to do whatever they ask. If you don’t have time to think about the situation and realize that it does not make sense, it becomes easier for them to get something out of you.

Here are some of the tactics con artists may use:

  • Get rich quick schemes: They will offer something for nothing to get rich off of you.
  • Cash-only requests: They will sell you something, but you can only pay for it with cash. Reputable vendors, dealers, and business people do not operate on a cash-only basis, especially for big-ticket items.
  • Today-only opportunities: They will try to rush you to make a fast decision because they say the deal is disappearing tomorrow. This is so you do not have time to consider their “offer” to you as nothing more than a scheme to make money off of you.
  • Guarantees: They will offer you guarantees that you will make a profit or that the product they want you to invest in or buy is legitimate. Be careful if you are told that everyone who invested money made a profit, this is a tactic used by scammers who do not have documentation to back up their claims.

Grifters Show Excessive Confidence and Charm

A con artist’s confidence level can be very high. They use manipulation tactics to present themselves to be so confident in what they are talking about that you would never doubt their expertise, advice, or guidance to do something for them.

Grifters have no problem lying and they show no signs of true empathy. This gives them the ability to not hear the word “no” when you keep saying it. They bounce off every objection and come back to hammer the offer, time and time again, using guilt as well as false care for you that you are missing out on a major opportunity that will benefit you- while being charming and charismatic as they do it.

They can come off as being very likable to gain your good graces, but as their persistence grows, watch for increased levels of frustration, annoyance, or disappointment. This is an act and part of their scam to prey on people’s need for approval and to force you to do whatever they ask of you despite your good sense and hesitation.

Grifters Impersonate People of Authority

A grifting con artist often has a scheme that hinges on him or her being a person of authority. This lends credence and credibility to their scam. Scams that come to you in the mail, via email, or by telephone can involve assumed authority. For example, a scam gains legitimacy if it appears to be from a bank or government agency.

Be aware that your bank will never send you important information about your account through an email or text, especially not with a link you need to click. Always go to the bank’s website and contact customer service if you have received a suspicious email, text, phone call, or message on social media apps.

Companies that send mail that looks like it is from an official source are not always legal. Read your messages and mail carefully and never send money to anyone claiming to be an organization or authority figure if there is an appearance that differs in any way from normal correspondence from those entities.

Contact Us If You Have Been Charged with White Collar Crimes

If you are being accused of being a grifter, whether it’s identity theft or fraud contact us immediately. Our lawyers with experience in white-collar criminal defense can help you determine the next course of action.

Call the Coolidge Law Firm today at (919) 239-8448 or complete the contact form below.

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