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Top con tricks

Updated on October 15, 2008

You may know one of Andersen's most popular the fairy tale - 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. In this tale, an emperor who cares too much about clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital showing off his new "clothes". During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, "But he has nothing on!" The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.

Reality is sometimes more vivid than fairy tales. In the 1840s the British government were always looking for new weapons to fight their wars. Samuel Alfred Warner(1794 - 1853) said he had an invisible shell. It didn't need gunpowder. He blew up two little ships to show how it worked, but no one was allowed to see how he did it. This is how he tricked people to believe how it worked: First, he load a barrel of gunpowder on to a ship at a certain time, say 1 P.M. and light a 1 hour fuse. Then the ship towed out from shore and at 2 p.m. have everyone watch it. Tell them you've fired your invisible shell. All people Watch with astonishment the ship explode!

Then Warner asked for money to show the navy a 'long-range' shell - one that could wreck an enemy fort miles away. The government gave him £2,000.

But the government didn't get what they expected! It was a hot-air balloon that carried an explosive over the target. It was supposed to land and go off.

It didn't. It missed by miles. But the government went on believing him, and paying him, for 20 years.

I don't know if the British government were as stupid as the emperor in Andersen's fairy tale. But either fear or greedy could let people to be tricked easily.

Promise to make people rich. Sell them a brilliant idea. Get them to pay you, then disappear with the money and the secret.

Henry Ford made a fortune from his company - Ford motor cars. But still he wanted more money. One day he received a letter from a stranger.

"22 April 1916
Farningdale, New York
Dear Mr. Ford
The price of petrol is rising all the time. What if I told you I can make cars run on something cheaper - what if I told you I can make them run on water? Just add a little of my special mixture to a gallon of water and the car will run witout petrol. Sell the special mix and you will make millions. All you have to do is pay me one million dollars. Pay me $100, 000 now and the rest when you have sold the mix to the world. You have nothing to lose! Your humble servant,
Professor Enricht."

Henry Ford saw a car run on a bucket of water with a magic liquid added. He paid $10,000 for the secret. Enricht then sent the same letter to gun-maker, Hiram Maxim.

Maxim said he'd give Enricht $100,000. Enricht sent back Henry Ford's money and took the Maxim money. He handed over an envelope and told Maxim not open it till Enricht said he could. Even the President of the US was thrilled to think the country would have so much cheap fuel. Then Enricht disappeared Maxim opened the envelope. It was full of blank paper.

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    • profile image

      Nick 

      7 years ago

      I thought it was not useful

    • ratcliffe07 profile image

      ratcliffe07 

      9 years ago

      People will fall for anything

    • profile image

      Con test 

      9 years ago

      Con test

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