I rarely watch any TV. But, I’m a big, big fan of Hustle. Screw Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Phua Chu Kang, etc. If you’d like to watch a TV show which does not leave you dumber than before you watched it, I bet you’ll dig Hustle as much as I do.
As you can probably tell from the title, Hustle is about a group of scammers going around scamming people for fun and money. What’s remarkable about the scams that these hustlers pull is that they all follow a tried-and-true formula which is pretty much unchanged since our loincloth-wearing caveman days:-
- Pick the victim. He’s someone who wants something for nothing.
- Give the victim the “Convincer”. Allow the victim to make some money on the first scam. This is to gain the victim’s trust (i.e. to convince him).
- Rope the victim in. After gaining his trust, steer him into the big scam.
- Fleece the victim.
- Run, rinse, repeat.
You can bet that conmen of all shapes and sizes follow this formula to the dot. Why? Because it’s rooted in human psychology which hasn’t changed since Adam took that big fat bite into the apple:-
- You can’t cheat an honest man.
- The victim is most vulnerable when he is most greedy.
- The victim wants to believe. You can give him a reason to believe by letting him earn some money first (i.e. the “convincer”).
The good thing about this is that once you know the formula, you’ll readily recognize scams for what they are, especially when someone tries to make a sucker out of you. Remember that slimy salesman who tried to sell you that “no money down, 15% rental yield” opportunity? Did you want something (15% rental yield!) for nothing (no money down!)? Now you know!
How To Scam Property Buyers Like A Seasoned Conman
My lawyer has asked me to put up this disclaimer: I’m writing this in our typical GoodPlace tongue-in-cheek fashion, and am in no way encouraging anyone to run property scams. If it’s not too obvious already, this is written so that buyers know how to spot a scam when they see one. As always, you are responsible for what you choose to do with this information. By continuing to read this article, you agree to our terms and conditions. This article is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. In short, don’t sue me if something goes wrong. Thank you for understanding.
Now with the usual PC bullshit out of the way, let’s talk about how you can run a property con like the shameless scammer that you’ve always wanted to be.
Step #1: Start of with something legit.
Don’t come out of the gates looking and smelling like a scammer. Like any sensible conman, you must have a good “front” business which covers up all your shady shit. Begin with something boring that everyone knows as legitimate. For example, start a property agency with a proper license and all (get a principal as a sleeping partner, etc).
Bonus tip: use boring name like “Yap Chooi Hwa Agency Enterprise”. Calling yourself “Rich Man Property Investment Specialists” is pure amateur hour. Any of the following words will immediately trip the BS meter: “Dreams”, “Gold”, “Freedom”, “Independence”, “Investments”, “Network”, “Matrix”, “Silver”, “Diamond”, “Platinum”.
Step #2: Hide yourself.
Because you’re a scammer, you’ll want to hide your mug so that it’s easier to make a comeback after you fleece your victims of their children’s college funds. At your website, remember to use only anonymous stock pictures, preferably of people in “aspirational” poses. Typically, you want pictures of cheery looking professionals giving themselves high-fives or pumping their collective fists jubilantly in the air. See these examples below:-
(The depictions above are entirely the fruit of my imagination, and are not meant to mock anyone by the name “Yap Chooi Hwa”, if that person exists.)
Extra credit: Get a celebrity endorsement! It doesn’t have to be someone current (gotta watch the budget!) – maybe a washed up actress who had starred in a once-popular RTM Drama Minggu Ini in the 1990’s. If you are too cheap to afford a C-list actress at least go gatecrash some parties and take some selfies with them celebrities. Upload them to your site, implying that they are endorsing you.
Step #3: Give out the “Convincer”.
Find 10-15 ‘lucky’ people. Pay them a crazy rate of return, like, $13,257.92 profits on top of a $150.76 investment, or a 8,794% ROI. Use specific numbers to be extra convincing. You want these ‘lucky’ people to be the face of your scheme. Make sure you take videos of them giving you recommendations, gushing over you like you’re Mother Teresa. Get them to flash the cameras with the filthy lucre that they’ve made from your scheme. Upload the videos on YouTube and force them to spam their family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Myspace, Friendster, Orkut, Ashley Madison, etc.
Step #4: Create your scam.
The best property scams have some (if not all) of the following four characteristics:
- The property must be in an area which where information is scarce. Choose areas which your victims are completely unfamiliar with. Maybe a small town in Perak, or a new ceruk hidden somewhere in the Iskandar region. The more ulu the place, the better.
- Minimum upfront payment or “no-money-down”. Structure the financing in such a way that it’s (almost) painless for the buyer. The lower the barrier to entry is, the more impulsive the buyer would be. Don’t we all like buyers who buy in impulse? I do!
- Humongous returns. A good rule of thumb: aim for about 20% returns. Remember: the greedier your victims are, the less likely they are to come to their senses. However, don’t go crazy and promise 50% returns – you need your lies to be believable, even by suckers who are blinded by their greed.
- Have “no lose” clauses. You want to make it sound as if there’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. For example, put in place a “No Lose Guarantee” – if the property doesn’t give the 20% yield as promised then the buyer gets the chance to sell the property back to you. Of course, you’ll sneakily enter a clause inside the lengthy Terms and Conditions document that the victim would usually sign without reading (e.g. to get his money back, he must perform a naked rain dance in the KLCC park, etc).
Step #4: Bribe your affiliates.
The affiliates are your sales people, and so they must be awarded nicely with fat commissions. Remember, the more commissions you give them, the less concerned they are with ethics. If possible, you want someone who would sell you his grandma for $10. The best people to recruit to help you sell your scams are: you guessed it: people who dabble in Multi-level Marketing (MLM) schemes. They are greedy, hungry and gullible: just like the doctor ordered!
If you have problems finding these MLM hucksters – go to where these vermin like to congregate: Starbucks! It’s quite easy to spot them – they are usually sharply dressed, and armed with laptops and iPads which they use to give “presentations” to would-be victims. Also, you’ll notice that they like to whip out their notepads to draw funny pictures of pyramids and 2×2 “matrices”. These are the tell-tale signs of an MLM turdball.
So how do you recruit them into your scheme? Easy. Go near them within striking distance, and pretend that you’re having a phone call with a top performing affiliate of yours now enjoying a fully paid holiday cruise in the Aegean Sea courtesy of the “President’s Platinum VIP Club”. Before you know it, he’ll be on his all fours and his tongue wagging, begging to join your “opportunity”, believing you’re the messiah to deliver him to the promised land of financial independence. Simple, innit?
Step #5: Make your money, and GTFU.
Every good scam must come to an end. It’s just a matter of time before your office (if you’ve got one) gets swarmed by angry people demanding their money back. Of course, you should have the foresight to already launder your money to the British Virgin Islands long before anything like that happens. Remember to keep some petty cash at hand to pay off those who are extra LOUD so that you can shut them up for good (tell them you’ll only pay them if they sign the confidentiality clause).
Bonus “extra despicable” tip: hire a team of badass lawyers and threaten to sue the victims if they don’t shut up. At this point, you may also stop paying your sales people too, since you won’t need them anymore. With the extra money, I’d recommend that you put a team of bodyguards with bazookas on your payroll because, trust me, you’ll need them!