Becoming a Con man of crackpot technology for fun and profit

last updated 2003-02-23 - found at http://www.phact.org/e/con_man.htm

how to make a living pitching free energy machines

A number of people have made a decent living ripping off (usually elderly) investors, promising they will get rich on free energy.

---- the following tips can help any charismatic salesman get lots of money and notoriety ----

Be very careful to have any investors forfeit their right to legal action any way possible. - this can be a last minute statement to sign, often you can hide silencing terms in a nondisclosure agreement.

Start with outrageous enough claims to filter the more skeptical people out as early as possible. But, be careful about making too many bogus scientific claims, or you may find self-righteous skeptics trying to debunk you - if this happens, tell your followers they (or any critics) are part of the conspiracy - maybe nitpick at fine points of their arguments, but don't ever respond to their main thrust.

Claim you are not in it for the money, just to save humanity. Say you have already been offered huge sums, but want to sell it to the little guy (i.e. the gullible guy). Try to market it to older mid-western Christian farmers - they've always bought in in the past. Build excitement for something wonderful.

Focus investors attention away from evaluating claims on technical grounds. The following distractions are recommended:

  1. get them involved in political issues. Convince them you have some large secretive benefactor.
  2. focus their attention on an elaborate multi-generational international conspiracy which has kept everyone pitching free energy to fail. Make your audience outraged against the conspiracy, yet empowered that they can finally overcome it by giving you money.
  3. talk about your valiant battles with the patent office or some government bureaucracy (that always warms people up)
  4. get into religion quick (religious people are already taught to have faith) -appear to have God on your side
  5. get people to focus on your theory rather than measurable evidence.
  6. claim it already has been proven so you need not offer any proof   Tell them you are done proving it and need big money to start mass production.
  7. Write an autobiography (self-published, of course) where you can "control" the facts. When someone questions your shady past simply say, "Buy my book and learn the truth about what REALLY happened." Naive people won't question the "facts" because, after all, it's in a book.  If your book is long enough, you may mesmerize them.

  You must focus on the big conspiracy. It's very important to make people believe in the big conspiracy - because that's your excuse for past failures, present lack of evidence, the critics, and future delays. Locking horns with bureaucrats or the scientific community can distract from your lack of evidence and get you great free press. Make people believe exciting claims of bad guys wanting to steal or bury your ideas. - then claim you will destroy your prototypes and records rather than let them fall into the hands of the bad guys.

  Be bold, sell books, consider taking out full page ad or get on the radio. People will feel that something this out in the open can not possibly be a fly by night Con. The most successful cons are ones lasting for a few years not the quick cons.

  Watch your target market, Go after people predisposed to believing in conspiracy theories such as the militias, JFK conspiracy, and UFO cover-up groups.

  If you are forced to demonstrate some device, consider the following important tips: bore the skeptics right out of the room with long discourses on elementary science; claim you have some adjustments to make, yet; say it worked yesterday; run your machine for just a few seconds and move on to some other important point. - or do the Newman trick of openly hooking up input power and just promising it's less than what comes out.

  A good final lesson, if the heat from impatient investors and public scrutiny gets too much, do what Keely did - just walk away from it all (just claim it doesn't work because the remaining people don't understand it) , and just start some new investment scheme for some other amazing claim.

  operate from a state which is soft on fraud and organized crime.

  Get people to pay around 20 - 100$ for "information kits" or video tapes.  Once they've paid that much, it's easier to get them to start paying more money.

  Discourage investors from contacting each other and cover up evidence of earlier bitter investors.

  Get followers to sell your stuff to their friends, family and churches - try multilevel schemes - promise they will get rich by commissions on getting others to invest (who cares if this destroys their friendships).

  Be open to having newer investors buy out older more impatient investors.  Always promise a disgruntled investor that someone else will soon buy him out.

  Don't be afraid of lawsuits, if OJ got off so can you - they can be one more excuse for delays. Most attorney generals will just bluff with a cease and desist order and then move on to someone else.

  Don't be afraid of investors defecting, most of them will feel too stupid to go public with their story - even if some do start successful attacks on you, just say they are agents of the big conspiracy.

  Jealously guard your list of investors, a good sucker list is worth its weight in gold and can even be sold to other con men.

  Don't be afraid of the press, they don't usually evaluate outlandish claims, and even if they do - your audience won't likely listen.

  Be open to 'red-lining' your investors (i.e.: tell them if they don't come up with just a little more money, they will lose it all)

  Be ready to move to another state with corrupt or weak DA's - if you are done 'harvesting' your initial area. (i.e.: New Jersey is known as an east coast haven for the mob, prostitution and home repair scams)  Most states don’t bother to track people down across state lines.

  If you are really bold, you could give commissions for investors to find more investors. Better to also make others responsible for building the machines - it buys you time and gives you another person to blame.
Explain complex subjects simply, (leaving out lots of details) so that the mark feels as though he understands the subject well enough to make informed decisions.

How to deal with skeptics and detractors:

There are a number of approaches to deal with self righteous people who like to point out your flaws of reason, lists of previous victims, etc. out on the internet:

--- hope no one gets too offended by this conjecture - most of it is inspired by a neat book, "Con Men and their methods". By the way, I've gotten taken a few times myself (maybe that's why I'm fascinated by the subject) ======== this page will be live updated at http://www.phact.org/e/con_man.htm

The Woo-Woo Credo - how to be a general kook
pages exposing Joe Newman and  Dennis Lee who some people suspect of leading a nationwide scam.  Also, Amin, Mills (who may be legit?)  Tilley, Perendev, Bearden Lutec  Tewari. get on an email list for updates about Dennis   Tom Bearden’s MEG device A rational review of meg claims   inconsistancies in his theory  Greer’s offer  Bill Muller and questioning Bearden’s mental health  free energy scams

   NATIONAL FRAUD INFORMATION CENTER and state attorney generals offices and investment fraud -the SEC's number is 202-942-8090

  scambusters gives information mostly on fraud over the internet. great list of scams   FAIR's media contact list   Newspaper Links by State    E&P Media Links - Search Page

  Consumer Sentinel: Complaints - direct form to allow people to submit complaints
 http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/ - a great resource of scams - their report on Dennis's operation
 Prosecuting Attorneys, District Attorneys, Attorneys General & US Attorneys on the Web
 Internet Fraud Complaint Center

 Directory of Investigative Journalists - a good resource to get the media to expose a con man
A restraining order issued against Dennis Lee in 1999

Send any comments to the web pages to, Eric Krieg eric@phact.org
View Eric Krieg's skeptics pages and see more  rants by Eric
UPDATE:  Spotlight magazine just blasted Dennis.  You can hear Dennis telling his followers to
send in money saying: , "I need to encourage you to do this no matter what it takes for you to do it. You can take in partners, limited  partnerships, get a loan, break the kids piggy  bank, max out the old credit cards, borrow against the insurance, cash in the Christmas fund or even the college fund because if you get them at $2.50 now before the 15th, it's going to be easy to get that money back".    Don't believe me, hear Dennis's own words:
http://www.phact.org/e/z/dennis3.wav
 

I got the following response from Dustin

It's sort of depressing how frauds can make hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like free-energy claims without showing any evidence that the device works. After reading your Dennis Lee page I realized that you don't even have to go through the trouble of faking a believable demonstration! If you can make a fortune off of something that doesn't exist it seems like anyone who really comes up with a good idea should become a millionaire. Then I think of how many stories I've heard of independent inventors having their ideas stolen by big companies and spending their whole lives in court trying to get the credit (and money) that they deserve. Now suppose you have actually invented a free energy device. The best way to find the most effective marketing strategy is to see how well different techniques have worked in the past. Given the evidence, your best option is to do as the scam-artists do! Think of the benefits: 1. There is plenty of skeptical literature explaining how people are convinced to give money to support unsubstantiated claims so you don't have to buy expensive "how to" books. 2. Any media coverage you receive will probably be positive. You might even have your own segment on a FOX special. 3. You don't have to convince mainstream scientists that it works. 4. You don't have to let the plans for your invention collect dust due to lack of funding. There are plenty of gullible people willing to give you money before you give any evidence that your device works. 5. On the off chance that there actually is a conspiracy to suppress free-energy, they will either ignore you completely or maybe even support you. After all, the more frauds there are, the less likely a real claim will be believed. 6. Suppose that when you get around to building a prototype you discover that it doesn't work Who cares! If people like Dennis Lee can make a fortune without having any good ideas in the first place, there's no reason why you can't do the same(I suppose it's possible that Mr. Lee originally thought he had free energy then took advantage of this particular benefit).