Conman In Marks Clothing
Attempting to trick someone by pretending to be an easy target for crime


(permanent link) added: 2012-08-31 17:30:50 sponsor: Xtifr edited by: FastEddie (last reply: 2012-09-13 14:27:57)

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This was launched without YKTTW as "Napier", and with only two examples. TRS chose a new name for it, but to solve the only-two-examples problem, we decided to run it through YKTTW.

The TRS discussion is here, if anyone's interested. I also rewrote the description a little, but suggestions for improvement are welcomed.
This term refers to both a role in a con and a tale that uses the role. Goes like this: The Fake Mark pretends he is a big juicy target, someone easy to hate, someone who needs to be 'taken down.' The true conman brings this juicy target to the attention of a third party (the actual mark.

The idea is to get the real mark to chip in some funds in order to take down the fake mark, then take off with those funds. Frequently, the true mark of this tale is another conman, a juicy target being something a conman finds hard to pass by.

See also The Shill, which also involves pretending not to be part of the con.

Examples

Film
  • In the movie The Sting, Paul Newman's character Gondorff plays a fake mark, when he is working as the obnoxious bookie "Shaw".
  • In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, where the whole plot is con vs. con, it's no surprise that this trope shows up. It is a surprise when Janet turns out to be the one doing this.

Literature
  • In the Discworld series:
    • In Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig mentions using the diamond-ring version of the Violin Scam on dishonest jewelers as his fallback get-cash-quick scheme.
    • In ''Witches Abroad', Granny Weatherwax puts on her vulnerable-old-lady act in order to sharp two card sharps penniless.

Live-Action TV
  • On Hustle, this is usually either Danny or Albert, though sometimes they rope in friends to dress up.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael needs to recover his client's money from a conman. He pretends to be a rich oil heir with a trust fund, and Sam plays his reluctant banker/trustee who wants to see matching funds before he'll allow Michael's character to invest in the conman's scheme. (In the end, this approach doesn't work, and the team has to improvise something a little more explosive.)
  • In the Cheers episode "Pick a Con... Any Con", Coach gets revenge on a card shark by conspiring with a second con artist. The plan works partly because Coach is seen as a mild-mannered Ditz, and nobody suspects a thing.

Western Animation
  • In King of the Hill, Peggy makes herself look like an incompetent conwoman wannabe who is trying to fool a professional conman with a con that anyone who watches movies should know. The professional conman can't resist such an easy mark and thus falls for her real con.

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