Just as there is no typical profile for swindlers, neither is there one for their victims. Virtually anyone can fall prey to fraudulent crimes. … Certainly victims of high-yield investment frauds may possess a level of greed which exceeds their caution as well as a willingness to believe what they want to believe. However, not all fraud victims are greedy, risk-taking, self-deceptive individuals looking to make a quick dollar. Nor are all fraud victims naive, uneducated, or elderly.
Confidence tricksters often rely on the greed and dishonesty of the mark, who may attempt to out-cheat the con artist, only to discover that he or she has been manipulated into losing from the very beginning. This is such a general principle in confidence tricks that there is a saying among con men that "you can't cheat an honest man.
Nevertheless, some tricks depend on the honesty of the victim. In a common scam, as part of an apparently legitimate transaction, the victim is sent a worthless check, which the victim then deposits. The victim is then urged to forward the apparent value of the check to the trickster as cash, possibly keeping a small portion of the money as a commission, which they may do before discovering the check bounces. Another fashionable scenario (as of 2006) has the victim recruited as a "financial agent" to collect "business debts". Paper checks are not always involved: funds may be transferred electronically from another victim.
Sometimes con men rely on naive individuals who put their confidence in get-rich-quick schemes, such as "too good to be true" investments. It may take years for the wider community to discover that such investment schemes are bogus. By the time they are discovered, many people may have lost their life savings to something in which they have been persuaded to invest.
The confidence trickster often works with one or more accomplices called shills, who help manipulate the mark into accepting the con man's plan. In a traditional confidence trick, the mark is led to believe that he will be able to win money or some other prize by doing some task. The accomplices may pretend to be random strangers who have benefited from successfully performing the task.