Money, a Short Con and Crime = Short Change

This episode, we're turning to the dark side and learning actual CRIME. Remember, the following is for INFORMATIONAL AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

Everyone's heard the term "short change," but very few people know about the actual street con for which it's named. This scam is performed thousands of times each year, and con men score millions of dollars just by using a few simple verbal tricks...

THE GOAL: To get more money out of the register than you're entitled to, without the attendant even realizing it.

THE METHOD: In this episode, we're presenting one of the simplest versions of the short change. Advanced versions of this scam can take people for hundreds of dollars. This version uses three phases:

Start by peforming some kind of fair trade to get the register open. You can ask for change for a twenty (looking for a ten, a five, and five ones), or maybe buy an item and pay with a large bill (for example, buy a beer with a twenty, giving you the drink, and $15 change). It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you start with a fair trade that involves a lot of bills. This gets the register open and the attendant's head filled with a bunch of numbers, which sets you up for...

PHASE TWO: THE SECOND LAYER (INCLUDING DISTRACTION). This is a trade you'll start on top of the first one. It's a trade that's ALMOST fair, but involves a mistake that makes the short change possible. In our example, while the till is still open, explain that you've got some ones to get rid of, and that you'd like to trade them for a $10 bill. Drop down a stack of $1 bills (actually containing only 9 of them), and scoop up their $10 bill (along with the change from PHASE ONE). Remind the cashier to count those bills and "make sure it's right" (again, this fills the cashier's head with more numbers and builds some time delay).

After the count, they'll notice that your amount is wrong. In this case, we're short $1. It could be that you've overpaid (maybe the last bill was a five instead of a one). It doesn't matter what's wrong with the money you provide: what matters is that the distraction allows you to "correct" the mistake and grab more of the register's cash, using...

PHASE THREE: THE CORRECTION. Now if you were playing fair in the $9 example above, you'd correct it simply by giving them another dollar... But that's not what you'll do. Instead, you'll say "Wait... I don't want to get confused here... We've got nine, right? So let's make that ten... Oh, and I've got some more ones here... We'll make it 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15... and 5 dollars more will make it twenty. We'll just trade for my original twenty instead."

Did you see what happened? By using time delay, multiple numbers, and a reference back to "the original twenty," we essentially use our stack of nine $1 bills TWICE. First to trade for a $10 bill, then again (added with more money) to trade for a $20!

Scam School Homework!

1. Rent from Netflix

2. Use the Scam School code: 3. Watch "The Grifters" starring John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, and Annette Bening. You'll learn some short cons, long cons and a way to underpay for your drinks Don't forget to submit your Scam School Domain Smack!

Play along and have Brian introduce your domain smack in a future episode! Find out more here.

Example of a Domain Smack created by Brian: