They easily compartmentalize their different characters, victims, and on-going scams.
Gifted with an exceptional memory, the swindler can access each current script with the speed of a computer; and if they cannot quite remember a fact (or lie), they can dance around the lapse so convincingly that you will seldom, if ever, notice.
Over time, Demara used his knowledge to gain his biographer’s trust, convince him he was reformed, and then — surprise! While we think of innocent, everyday people as being the most commonly taken advantage of by con artists, the cheat sometimes becomes the cheated.
What does set the scammer apart is the natural ability, often discovered at a very young age, to manipulate the people around them.
“Con artists are often the best marks because they think themselves immune,” she explains. Con artists may be willing to disregard the truth, but according to Konnikova, it’s not due to any compulsive need.
They differ from pathological liars, who lie as “a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Instead, their lies are very calculated and strategic, told with the purpose of moving their plan forward.
Based on the results of a study on corporate fraud, Konnikova argues that a person also needs to have opportunity and a plausible rationale.
Trust is important to humans because working together has allowed us to evolve more successfully.