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Are You Being Conned? 7 Ways to Tell

Here's how to know if someone is a fake. 

In the Daily Beast, New York City mother Suzy Welch wrote that her daughter's best friend had been duped by a guy she was dating. The man claimed to be a wealthy socialite named "Kyle Deschanel," a member of the Rothschild family and an agent for the Saudi government. According to Welsh, he was a recently divorced rabbi with a wife and kids in New Jersey and plenty of debt. Welsh said she had met the man and instantly had his number. "I knew 'Kyle' was a phony the minute I met him," and she told her daughter's friend. If only she had listened. "How is it that I knew 'Kyle Deschanel' was a phony? Well, the real answer is, 'My spidey sense told me.'" Here's how Welch said she knew the guy was a fake. 

They Have This Weird Personality Mix


"In my experience, phonies invariably present with an extremely bizarre mixture of pomposity and humility," wrote Welch. "They often outright claim to be special—famous, rich, important—they are members of an elite tribe, breathe rarified air, know things and people you could not. But simultaneously, they do a strange jig where they act like this specialness isn't all that big a thing."

They Act a Bit Ashamed


Con artists act "vaguely embarrassed" by their good fortune, wrote Welch. "They don't want anyone to know. They just happen to be a good person who's very, very lucky. They just happen to be, to paraphrase the old Dos Equis ad, 'the most interesting person in the world.'"

They Blab About Their Wealth


"For the record, people who are actually famous, rich, and important, in my experience at least, never mention it," wrote Welch. "And people who are, in reality, wildly interesting, almost never seem to notice it about themselves. They just are."

Details In Their Stories Don't Quite Wash


In the life story told by con artists, "Their facts never seem to add up," wrote Welch. "Lots of money, but no place to live?  Big job, but no assistant? Lots of foreign travel, but no jet lag? Hmm."

They Make Unverifiable Claims


In con artists' tales, there are things about their past you cannot verify, says Welch. "Spoiler alert: No one graduates from Princeton at 16, and three people on Planet Earth have actually had parents who were Russian spies and can talk about it."

They Can't Do Little Things Like Normal People


"This shows up particularly quickly in work settings," says Welch. "For instance, phonies always seem to show up late to meetings and miss deadlines."

Their Excuses Come In Two Forms

A close up of someone's hands using a phone and a laptop to access Google

When they fall down on a deadline or responsibility, their excuses go one of two ways (or both), Welch explains. " They are either super self-important, as in, 'Sorry, got a call from Diller—he's in Mykonos, and wanted my aunt's number.' Or they are overkill. 'My dog swallowed a battery and needed surgery.'" Fortunately, one method is very effective at catching fakers. It's "this little thing called Google," Welch concludes. 

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