Allentown
61° F
Clear
Clear

Life Lessons: Protect yourself from a con artist

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 05 2014 04:14:08 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 05 2014 06:05:33 AM CST

Fraud detectives say the goal of thieves and con artists is always to win your trust.

 The book tells it all.

"I began writing my own books when I came home from prison five years ago,” says a former thief who goes by the name "Mack Mama". "I just submerged myself in street life; the streets raised me."

“It’s the story of a young girl from a good home who wanted to fit in with the wrong girls.

"I wanted to be with those girls from Brooklyn, the fly girls that were getting money. You know, I was fascinated by them," 'Mack Mama” says.

To fit in, she shot victims, sold drugs, scammed the unsuspecting, and learned to steal; the department store Macy’s was a prime target.

"I would come in on the Eighth avenue exit, and get arrested. I’d go back around to the Sixth avenue side, go back in and continue stealing,” she said.

The criminal behavior landed her behind bars.

“It's like you have a Ph.D., you go in for one crime and you come out learning four more. I learned how to be corrupt; I learned how to make a person believe me," she said.

Fraud detectives, like Detective Jacqueline Fofana with the fraud and forgery department at the Columbus Police, say the goal of thieves and con artists is always to win your trust.

“They're professionals, so they seek out people,” says Detective Fofana.

Detective Fofana says women are easy prey.

"Once they see that you're vulnerable then that's when they take advantage of you," she said.

One of the top scams involves rogue door-to-door contractors. If they claim work for a big discount, watch out. Also popular, affinity fraud uses one friend to get other friends to invest in something. And watch out for twisted text prizes. Thieves are just trolling for your personal information.

Remember, con artists are master manipulators. They use your greed, your emotions, and your desperation.

"Women get involved because of sometimes drug use, sometimes it's because they have children, and they have to care for them," Detective Fofana said.

Both women say you can protect yourself. First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t allow the con artist to make you feel guilty. Ask for offers in writing. Ask for a meeting with your accountant or attorney, request references, and never act immediately. If you believe you are being targeted by a con artist, check them out with the National Financial Fraud Exchange at www.fraud.org.

"Protect your property, protect yourself," "Mack Mama" said.

Since leaving the life of crime she is now a published author, singer, and mentor to young girls.

If you believe you have been a victim of a con artist or scam contact your Attorney General’s office, police department, or the National Crime Prevention Council for help.