The Con

How Scams Work, Why You're Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself


by James Munton and Jelita McLeod


Rowman and Littlefield


Reader Appeal: Adults


Genre: True Crime


PopFam Rating: A+


Funny thing happened on the way to writing this book review. It seems my adult son called his grandmother from Canada, and their conversation went something like this:


First, my son says he's in Canada, where he's traveled to attend a friend's funeral. While there, he says he met up with some other people, went for lunch, and then the police came. They found drugs in the other people's car and arrested everybody--my son included. Now he doesn't know where to turn, so he's calling his Grandma for help.


Next, a police sergeant gets on the line and explains the severity of the situation to dear sweet Grandma. The boy is looking at hard time unless (surprise!) Grandma wires bail money so he can get out of jail, return to the US, and find a proper lawyer to defend him.


Fortunately, Grandma is not stupid enough to wire money sight unseen to a stranger...but when she can't get hold of her grandson, she begins to worry in earnest. Several tense hours go by before Grandma finally hears from her grandsons. He's at home, washing dishes...and the con is finally revealed.


If Grandma had read James Munton and Jelita McLeod's insightful and entertaining book, The Con, she would have never (almost) fallen for this little scam. Why? Because the script for it is clearly described on pages 89-90, in the chapter titled "Dialing for Dollars." Turns out Grandma had almost been ensnared by what Munton and McLeod call a "tried and true grandparent scam [that] relies on people's willingness to come to the aid of their grandchildren." It's also know as a "crisis call," where the threat of danger to a loved one spurs a victim to send money for aid.


Phone scams aren't the only reason to buy Munton and McLeod's book, but they are one good reason. Another reason is the expert analysis the authors offer on all kinds of scams--from street scams to internet cons, postal fraud and more. Their savvy insights into "the weakest link" in any scam (hint: it's you) is invaluable, as is their exposure of affinity and business scams, as well as the ins and outs of identity theft.


Best of all, Munton and McLeod do more than simply alert you to what kinds of scams are out there--they offer practical, real-world tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones from would-be hucksters.


Written in an easy-to-read, conversational manner, The Con is a book every parent should own, every grandparent should read, and every college student should understand. This one is easily, and highly, recommended.




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