BY THE age of 18, while his peers were applying for bursaries to further their studies in university, Chico had already pulled off enough scams to buy himself a second-hand car, rent an apartment and renovate his mother’s house. He was a master of disguise. A charlatan that had enough charisma to sell feathers to a peacock. His secret was keeping things simple. People believed simple lies, simple stories and simple appearances because simple things made sense.
Anything too complex could lead to a victim asking too many questions. Too many questions led to too many lies, lies that even a skilled con artist like Chico had a hard time keeping up with.
Simple made sense and that was how Chico carried out his scams with success.
The game had three steps: pick a target, make them believe you are who they think you are and earn enough trust for them to trust you with their money.
His latest target was Noni. A young, smart entrepreneur who made a living importing weaves and the latest fashion from overseas and selling them locally at double the price.
Her business was so successful, she drove a Mini Cooper and owned an apartment in Camps Bay that had an amazing view of the ocean.
Noni would, by far, be Chico’s biggest score to date. Chico had been with her for three months now, which meant it was time to strike. As with all his victims, he’d convinced Noni that he was a businessman who generated a large portion of his income from Forex, and like all of his victims, she fell for it.
One thing that made Noni stand out from his other victims was that she was very alert. He had to go as far as renting a top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan to keep up appearances because she kept nagging him about why he always took a cab and didn’t drive a fancy car like other businessmen.
He could tell she was getting suspicious with each day that went by because she’d been asking when they’d go to his place. Too many questions were always a sign the time to strike had arrived.
“GOOD day, sir. Are you ready to order?” the young waiter asked Chico. The waiter had been working with Chico for years. The fivestar, rooftop restaurant was a perfect setting that didn’t arouse suspicion.
The goal was simple – order the most expensive meal on the menu; tell Noni he’d forgotten his card in the car; let her offer to pay; and let Johnny, the waiter, steal her card details. They would wait two months before cleaning out her account to cover their tracks.
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