Con men are smooth, personable manipulators with tried-and-true systems for fooling their marks. Some pose as salesmen or investment businessmen and pressure, charm or hype people into giving them money. Others attach themselves to eligible, self-sufficient women and seek access to their finances, insurance or credit cards through marriage. Fortunately, a cautious investor or girlfriend can learn to recognize the signs that she is being tricked and catch a con man before he catches her.
Know the warning signs. Be wary of a person who dresses impressively, has a fancy office and talks extensively about his personal successes in investments or finance but is unwilling to give information about his background, track record or what exactly he will do with your money.
Request information in writing. Ask for a copy of the business's balance sheet or get references from his bank. In personal relationships, ask to see the person's tax returns or birth certificate to confirm that he is not lying about his finances, name or age.
Investigate when you are pressured. You can see major warning signs if he is pressing you to invest with him without time for consideration, saying that his proposition has no risk for you and guarantees results, calling more often than you expect to encourage you to invest or, in personal relationships, rushing you into marrying him. Refuse to let him pressure you and demand detailed information and proof of previous successes before you make decisions.
Look for major lies. Con artists often invent businesses, addresses and employment histories; look up businesses he mentions in your state's business directory to ensure that they are legitimate. If he claims that his date of birth as registered with his employer or on his birth certificate is inaccurate or he has more than one Social Security number, suspect fraud.
Notice your emotions when you talk to the person. If he makes you feel inadequate and incapable of making decisions yourself, he may be manipulating you into letting him make choices for you. If he makes you feel afraid that you will miss a big opportunity if you do not do as he says, consider it a warning sign.
Trust your intuition. If a person feels too suave or a deal feels too good to be true, keep your distance.
Stephanie Mitchell is a professional writer who has authored websites and articles for real estate agents, self-help coaches and casting directors. Mitchell also regularly edits websites, business correspondence, resumes and full-length manuscripts. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.