Watch How This Hustler Does His Work | Connecticut Public Radio

Watch How This Hustler Does His Work

Jan 29, 2016

Editor's note: John "Fast Jack" Farrell died August 1, 2019 at the age of 82.

The true art of the con seems to be in the manipulation of trust.

The art of the con can be pretty fascinating, but we often make the mistake of thinking we’re not vulnerable. One hustler stopped by WNPR to demonstrate how it’s done. 

Jack Farrell is a retired card shark and dice mechanic. During a visit to WNPR’s Colin McEnroe Show, he showed some ways people leave themselves exposed to con artists. 

A common tactic hustlers use is getting people to like them, Farrell said. 

"Weighing up the personality was very important, it was a major factor with me," Farrell said. "I would try to get a one-on-one friendship, or conversation with you, and that would be my objective; to turn you and make you enjoy my company, and make you like me."

Farrell said sometimes a hustler lets another person win a few times before trying a con. 

"The fact that they’re gambling -- it’s a big high. Personally, I think gambling is the strongest vice there is," Farrell said. "It’s so compulsive, and these are the people we would target a lot."

Farrell demonstrated what he considers to be some of his best kept hustling secrets. Watch his techniques below. 

Writer Maria Konnikova said we’re more likely to fall for hustles than we might prefer to believe. “Most of the time, trusting others doesn’t get us into trouble,” she told host Colin McEnroe. “It helps us get ahead. It helps us forge lasting relationships.”

The true art of the con seems to be in the manipulation of trust -- which can be alarming, given that humans are programmed to trust one another, including strangers. The most successful con artists earn their titles by understanding how to exploit this vulnerability in others.

Being a trusting person, Konnikova said, is usually a mark of greater intelligence, better health, and a happier life. “Ultimately, we’d be paralyzed if we didn’t trust people,” she said.

Konnikova also warned that flattery is dangerous. Once a person becomes emotionally invested, it’s much harder to recognize a hustle -- especially when someone like Farrell is dealing.