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Little Miss Con Artist

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Penny: I'm a thief!
Finn: But you're just a cute little girl!
Penny: And... I'M A THIEF!

Aww, look at sweet little Sally. So adorable, so innocent... wait, where's my wallet?

This is when a little girl takes advantage of the perception that Children Are Innocent to play a bunch of adults for suckers. Sometimes this character will work in partnership with an adult, usually her father, but as often as not she's the real brains of the outfit.

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When she grows up, she'll probably become the Decoy Damsel, who uses her beauty to fool people in the same way Little Miss Con Artist uses her cuteness. Compare Deliberately Cute Child and Daddy's Little Villain. The Artful Dodger is the Spear Counterpart.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Liliruca Arde in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. She joins adventure groups to steal equipment from her teammates, which she then sells off for money.
  • In episode 41 of the anime adaptation of Medabots, our heroes in Team Japan see a cute little girl (named Kahlua in the Japanese version, and Coconut in the English dub) being attacked by Team Caribbean pirates led by Captain Gene, since they're accusing her of stealing their chocolate. Naturally our heroes come to the little girl's defense, and she fawns over and hero-worships them for saving her. Out of the goodness of their hearts, our heroes even invite the little girl to watch their training session and give her their autographs. Then when Team Japan is set to Robattle Team Caribbean, the little girl appears behind Captain Gene, and at first Metabee assumes Captain Gene must have captured her. Nope, actually she's Captain Gene's daughter; the pirates were only pretending to attack the little girl earlier, it was all a plan for her to spy on Team Japan so she can report their weaknesses to her father and give him an edge.
  • One Piece Film Z: While Nami taking advantage of her cuteness to get what she wants isn't anything new, in this movie she also takes advantage of the fact that she was turned into a child to get information about Z from a bunch of Marines.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has one of these as a Ghost, connected to one that looks like a wolf. Sound familiar?
  • Green from Pokémon Adventures started out as this but it has since dimmed down. Her fingers are still as quick as ever, she just uses them for the cause of good rather than self-interest.

    Comics 
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    Fan Works 
  • The Karma of Lies plays Lila Rossi as one. Her celebrity lies are mostly character tests to see who's gullible enough to take them at face value (and is thus an easy mark), and who needs to be either avoided altogether or fed more specific and subtle lies. She's determined that most of her classmates are in the 'mark' category, Marinette is a 'don't bother' (except in trying to discredit her), and that Adrien won't be fooled by her standard deceptions, but can be persuaded to help her by exploiting his fear of rocking the boat and belief that everything will work itself out.

    Films — Animated 
  • Hoodwinked!: Red Puckett tricks the Wolf into falling into a river by handing her hooded cloak off to some hummingbirds. As predicted, the Wolf takes the bait.
  • Exaggerated by Little Noi from Raya and the Last Dragon, a literal "Con Baby" who uses her cuteness to run scams, including on Raya herself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ana: Ana is skilled at conning people, using her cute, innocent looks to sell her cons. She's a natural with fake miracle cures. A corrupt minister, Helen, is a more sophisticated version whom she works with.
  • The title character of the movie Curly Sue. Bill and Curly Sue are a father-and-daughter team of con artists, who are taken in by lawyer Grey Ellison after a Staged Pedestrian Accident.
  • In Gowri Ganesha, Lambodhar uses neighborhood children for multiple cons. He uses Ganesha, an orphan, to further the long con he is pulling on Anand Rao, Madhusudhan and Chandramouli's parents.
  • In Kick-Ass, Hitgirl dresses up as a Catholic schoolgirl and stands outside the door of the baddies' place to slaughter them.
  • Leap of Faith: The rare male variant, as Boyd, the wheelchair-bound brother of the woman Jonas is attracted to, reveals that he's been faking being handicapped for years, and offers to join his ministry. It leads to Jonas' Oh, Crap! moment and eventual Heel Realization.
    Jonas: Look, I run a show here. It's a lot of smoke and noise and it's strictly for the suckers. I've been pulling one kind of scam or another since I was your age, and if there's one thing I know it's how to spot the genuine article because that's what you've got to watch out for. Not the cops, you can always get around the cops. But the one thing you can never, ever get around is the genuine article, and you, kid, are the genuine article.
  • Angie is a pickpocket before Mikey discovers her in Life with Mikey.
  • In Logan's Run, to steal a bracelet, a street urchin distracts Jessica-6 by calling her "a nice old lady." This in a society where disaffected people "renew" at 30.
  • The whole premise of Matchstick Men is Angela conning people with her father and conning him because she's not really his daughter.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, China Girl can manipulate the Con Man Oz by turning on the waterworks.
  • In Paper Moon, Moses "Moze" Pray, a Con Man specializing in Scamming the Bereaved, is reluctantly tasked with delivering the recently-orphaned, nine-year-old Addie Loggins to her aunt in St. Joseph, Missouri. Despite vehemently denying that Addie is his daughter (which she likely is, considering Moze knew her "wild" mother well), he takes a liking to a her — even more so when he realizes his grifting looks more legitimate with a child by his side. And Addie proves to be exceptionally talented at it.
  • Little Rock, working with Decoy Damsel Wichita in Zombieland.

    Literature 
  • A poem titled 20th Street After Dark features a couple of preteen girls who pose as underage prostitutes and then, once the one girl has the guy in a vulnerable position, they mug him.
  • Addie Pray, from Addie Pray, the novel the movie Paper Moon was based on.
  • Minerva Paradizo from the fifth Artemis Fowl book.
  • Beka Cooper stops a couple of pickpockets who play a trick where the cute little girl distracts the mark while her partner lifts their purse.
  • Aphrael the Child-Goddess of The Elenium is quite happy to manipulate others in order to get what she wants. Just sitting in a obstructive person's lap and being cute is usually enough for her to subtly bring them around. She was also the one who stole Ghwerig's rings, which were needed to control Bhelliom.
  • Lyra of His Dark Materials plays up the innocent eyes on many occasions so adults will believe her. Her act also has shades of Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • The eponymous Markie, from Robert Aspirin's novel Little Myth Marker, is a combination of this and The Mole. She looks like an 8-year-old girl, but is the most dangerous "character assassin" in the trade. Also a subversion, since she's actually an adult woman from the dimension of Cupy, where it's about average to grow to the size of a human child.
  • Roxanne Thorburn from Pact is this: She's twelve, still cute as a button, for all her teenage years are swiftly approaching... and not above using Gaslighting, lying, occasional theft and general, all-purpose manipulation to get what she wants or to get others into trouble, the little sociopath. Her older half-sister, Ellie, might well have had a shot at this when she was younger, but Roxanne is outright better at covering her creepy up with the cute and getting away with it: not for her the lengthy juvie rap sheet of her hair-trigger sister. Well, she gets away with it unless you're family of the same generation as her, of course. Most with a brain cell working know. Even if not all the adults or those outside family have twigged.
  • Helen from Twig. Looks to be about twelve years old, cute as a button, and is actually a nonhuman creature grown in a vat who was designed to look like a twelve year old girl. In her default state, she's a pure Emotionless Girl who doesn't have any physical tics to indicate reactions, but in order to better pass as human she's become a Master Actor by pure necessity, slipping on personas and discarding them at will.
  • Claudia from the The Vampire Chronicles series plays up her eternal childhood to lure in her victims.
  • Veronics Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: The second missing girl, Aurora, who's also Veronica's step-sister, turns out to be a ruthless example of one: having been her Dad's accomplice for most of her childhood, she's got no compunctions about faking her own copycat abduction, even though it considerably slows down the search for the first victim, who really is missing.

    Live Action TV 
  • "The Lemonade Scammer" skit from All That which features a little girl (played by Katrina Johnson) who sells lemonade at outrageous prices and if the customers complained, she would cry and whine until they feel guilty enough to pay.
  • Katie Knight, Kendall's little sister from Big Time Rush.
  • This is, essentially, Aleli's role in the Argentinean TV series Casi Ángeles: she's eight and an orphan who robs men and women while they're distracted with street performances put on by her fellow members of an orphanage. Of course, this is all forced onto her by the abusive head of the orphanage, but still...
  • Sarah from Chuck was one of these as a child.
  • In Cloak & Dagger (2018), Tandy's raison d'être is conning rich boys by drugging them and then robbing them.
  • Megan Parker on Drake & Josh, her two eponymous brothers being the usual marks.
  • Ezel: As a girl Eyşan's father taught her how to prey on the kindness of others and directly involved her in his schemes.
  • The little Japanese girl and her big brother in Hustle who manage to pull a fast one on the protagonists.
  • Cassie Lenue from the Elementary episode "Miss Taken." She makes a Heel–Face Return in a later episode, putting her skills to a more benevolent use.
  • One episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has Dennis mentoring one of these in a water park, with the two successfully conning several people out of money and possessions. The girl eventually becomes a Bastard Understudy who manages to con Dennis himself out of all of their loot. For Dennis' part, he's actually proud of the girl rather than pissed, considering her con the final example of her mastering the art of bastardry.
  • Willie in the Magnum, P.I. episode "Basket Case".
  • The title character from Netflix series No Good Nick is this. She is forced to do it by her first foster family, though. Her motives for targeting the Thompsons also turn out to be far more sympathetic than it initially appeared.
  • One episode of Psych had Shawn and Gus tricked into getting a mall Santa out of prison because a little girl asked them to. She turned out to be "Santa's" daughter and partner in crime.
  • Shannon in The Real O'Neals. Her revelation in the pilot episode is that she was keeping the money she was raising for charity for herself and bought a car.
  • La rosa de Guadalupe: In "Fraude Cibernético", Elisa's best friend, Cristina, is implied to be one. The latter influenced the former into conning people to get a new phone.
  • The two little British girls that Sam and Cat babysit in Sam & Cat.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody had a little girl named Holly who helped her father fake an injury and sue the hotel. Turns out she was the brains of the operation, as her father just comes up with the names of their schemes. Meanwhile, she took orders for Girl Scout cookies from the entire staff... none of whom ever got their orders.
  • Tenspeed and Brown Shoe: E.L.'s nephew turns out to be one of these in "It's Easier to Pass an Elephant Through the Eye of a Needle Than a Bad Check in Bel Air"; he successfully fools Lionel into thinking he's a Boy Scout who has been separated from his troop. He's actually run away from home so he can live with E.L., whom he admires — much to E.L.'s frustration, as he doesn't want him to follow in his footsteps. The Bookends of an earlier episode involve Lionel dealing with a pickpocket kid in a park and getting scammed himself for his trouble.
  • An episode of The Waltons has a young girl and her father try this on the Waltons; until John-Boy confronts and then forces her to confess.
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    Theatre 
  • Sera Myu: Pretty much every non-Chibi-Usa child in Black Lady and Mugen Gakuen, save Hotaru.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands:
    • Eliza from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! plays this role masterfully. To the point of selling people lethally exploding vehicles, knocking them out when their back is turned, all so she can steal any valuables and money they happen to have on them at the time. Then when she reunites with her long lost brother, she proceeds to abscond with all the best merchandise from his shop!
    • Fiona and Sasha in Tales from the Borderlands stole what they could to survive when they were kids, since they were homeless and had no one to rely on but each other. One day they ran into a man named Felix and tried to pick his pocket; not only did he catch them in the act, but he taught them how to do it better, thus becoming their Parental Substitute and mentor in the art of the con.
  • This is probably why the Thief class is open to Moogle units in Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • Legends of Runeterra has a "Zaunite Urchin", depicted in her card art as a helpless young girl begging on the streets of Zaun for coin. However, the FULL artwork shows that she's actually making far more bank than it appears, and she has many interactions with her friends (various young hooligans in their own right), most of which are them helping out her Deliberately Cute Child act.
  • Pokémon:
    • Purrloin qualifies as this, despite not being human nor Always Female. Just look at its Pokedex entry from the Black version (the White version one is similarly worded): "They steal from people for fun, but their victims can't help but forgive them. Their deceptively cute act is perfect."
    • When a Purrloin evolves, it becomes not a Decoy Damsel like the trope would predict, but more like a Classy Cat-Burglar. Since it literally is a cat.
  • Gold Digger Anise Tatlin of Tales of the Abyss is this in spades. After a minor time skip, the first reunion between her and Luke is proceeded by her conning a woman out of gold.
  • Touhou:
    • Tewi Inaba. If she's not pranking, she's selling lies.
    • Also Mystia Lorelei, who runs a con on two levels using her power (singing that causes night blindness) to sell grilled lamprey (purported to cure night blindness, which she removes as they eat), which reduces the patrons' consumption of poultry, which as an avian youkai she naturally finds hideous.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Gender reversed with Flim Flam from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.
  • Penny from the Adventure Time episode "City of Thieves" is definitely this, because her 'losing' her basket was an elaborate plot to get the pure Finn to steal a treasure chest guarded by a barrier that keeps thieves like herself out. Even after being purified by Finn at the end, she STILL steals his clothes.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph and Katara (12 and 14, respectively) attempt this, as part of Katara's plan to show that she's not as much a stick-in-the-mud as others view her. The plan backfires, however, and they get captured to serve as bait to lure in Aang.
    • Which is merely the last of a long series of scams Toph performed throughout the episode. With her earthbending powers, Aang and Sokka's help, and using the fact that she is a cute little blind girl to her advantage, she cheated at gambling games and tricked rich people into giving her money.
  • Deidre from Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is a fence and scam artist who basically sells useless things for a price, or stolen things for cheap. She's also twelve.
  • Jessica Lovejoy was this on an episode of The Simpsons. Bart got blamed for all her hijinks because no one would believe that the sweet, innocent preacher's daughter could be so mischievous. She gets found out and made to clean the church stoop but quickly cons Bart into doing it for her. But Bart does get revenge by doing a second rate job to get Jessica into more trouble.


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