The conman represents that he (or he and his crew) can cause something to happen, for a fee, that will greatly benefit the mark. Actually, the event will take place or it will not. The conman has nothing to do with it. If the desired result does not come about, the most common play is to claim that what is needed is more money from the mark. A variation, crossed with the Delayed Wire, is the Reverse Pyramid Scheme: the conman pretends to have knowledge of some future event when he's really just guessing. The common form of this one is for the conman to contact a large number of people simultaneously, offering half one prediction and the rest the opposite. Everyone who got the wrong prediction never hears from him again, everyone else gets more predictions. After, say, 5 events, 1/32nd of the original population has received 5 "miraculous" correct predictions in a row and is asked to fork over money for more. Lawyers use this term differently. For them 'Rainmaker' denotes a person in the practice who brings in large or lucrative accounts and cases. Whether or not the practice can actually perform as promised for the rainmaker's client is no more of a fifty-fifty proposition than it ever is.
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- In an amusing reversal, The Rainmaker of PS238 is an actual mutant with the fairly lame power of making it raining or stop raining. He tries to make a living as a, well, rainmaker, but because of the countless frauds who have gone before him, nobody will pay him up front, and most of the time they turn out to be unwilling or unable to pay him afterwards - and as he puts it, he can't hardly pull the rain back outta the ground.
Live Action Television
- In Season 3 of The Wire, a state senator solicits money from a drug dealer to be used to "grease the wheels" for getting a federal grant. The state senator just plain keeps the money, and the grant goes to whoever it would have gone to anyway.
- The Twilight Zone episode "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" featured a con artist who claimed he could raise the dead. After "showing off" his work (with an assistant), he then offered to "reverse" it if the townsfolk paid him more. They did so, since everyone in the town's cemetery but one had died violently. In a Karmic Twist Ending, at the end, the con artist left... without realizing that he really had raised the dead, now en route to town.
- In the episode "A Single Drop of Rain" of Quantum Leap, Sam leaps into the life of a travelling "rain maker" (who is, in fact, a con man) visiting a drought-stricken farming community. Sam decides to combine his knowledge of future cloudseeding techniques with an afternoon of yelling at God that He owes Sam big time, resulting in a beneficial downpour.
- In Leverage, the delayed version (called the "Inverted Pyramid") is the scheme of a season 4 Mark. He brings a sense of scale to the whole thing: instead of a two-man operation selling stock predictions to, say, 10 or so marks, he runs a "boiler room" of grifters selling stock predictions to thousands of marks.
- In The Adventures of Pete & Pete the two Pete's make a con where they sweep a neighbors yard for landmines, they first plant a landmine in the lawn, knock on the door, and then throw a toy at the landmine to convince the customer.
- The play The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash has this as its central premise.
- The show 110 In The Shade is the musical adaptation of the play The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash. The play tells the story of the relationship between a spinster, the local sheriff and a conman promising rain.
- On The Simpsons, Homer invested some money in a scam that told him which football team would win, he lost money to it, but the worst part was he borrowed money from Fat Tony.
- In The Legend of Korra, Bolin is sent with bribe money to change the outcome of a Kangaroo Court. The people he ends up bribing have nothing to do with the trial, but gleefully take his money anyways.
- Real Life example: Corrupt Church leaders, particularly televangelists, will often promise to cause miracles for or bring good fortune, wealth, and/or happiness to anybody who donates money to their church which, of course, they keep to spend on things like a $23,000 toilet (look for an example in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief). This is frequently done with The Shill acting as a benefactor of a supposed miracle, such as sitting in a wheelchair then suddenly standing up and walking, when they never needed the wheelchair in the first place.
- A popular joke among NASCAR fans and broadcasters goes: "If your area is experiencing an extended drought, just build a racetrack and invite the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to town." This is due to the unusually high number of rainouts NASCAR has had in recent years.
- In the UK, similar jokes are made about how a game of cricket is an extremely powerful rain dance.
- Any product that claims to let you chose the sex of your next baby that comes with a money back guarantee.
- The "predictions" variant detailed above is a common scam with sports betting, especially the NFL. First, a scam artist acquires a few hundred thousand potential pigeons. He then sends predictions to them and keeps sending predictions only to those who have received a lucky streak of predictions. So why use the NFL? Well, first, the season is extremely short: 16 games over just over four months, plus a three- or four-game postseason over one month.note Starting at mid-to-late season, a scammer might only have to make seven straight predictions before he's "gotten them all right," and is offering his pigeons Super Bowl picks. This leaves more potential marks in the pot. Second, betting on football in the United States is far more common and culturally accepted. Even when illegal, it's treated more like "boys will be boys" than as a crime.