What scam would you pull, were you a terrible person?

I was just thinking that if I were inclined to be a total con artist, being a “pet psychic” would be an awesome gig. I know enough about animal handling and behavior to give some solid advice, I’m a decent enough writer to develop some extemporaneous fiction on the animal’s history based on known facts about current circumstances and behavior, and people will apparently shuck out stupid amounts of money over this business.
I just did a vendor event where one of my neighbors was a “pet psychic” who charged $60 for a thirty minute session. She was busy all day long!

So, Dopers, what shystery business do you have the skills for, had you a handful fewer scruples?

Ha! When I read the thread title I thought “Cold reading BS psychic!”
We could be partners. You could read the pets and I could talk to Grandpa from beyond.

… I’m seeing the letter R…

Better yet, you could ‘contact’ the pets’ ancestors! Who’s going to say you’re wrong?

I could see myself doing a Madoff style Ponzi scheme. Of course once I got enough money to live on for the rest of my life I would book it to some tropical country and leave everyone else holding the bag. Jail is for suckers.

Fortune telling. I already have the “strange lady with kinda-sorta gypsy like looks” part down.

How terrible a person do you mean here? Are we talking about preying on little old ladies’ social security money, or stealing from multi-millionaire CEOs? Because to my mind, there is a difference. Stealing is stealing, to be sure, but is there anyplace you would draw the line?

Well… not too terrible. I was thinking more along the lines of “shystery business model” rather than truly evil. Like selling Monster Cables, or woo-woo energy crystals with a bit of fuzziness around dodgy investment schemes, faith healing and the like. This was intended to be MPSIMS-style, rather than, you know, proposals of truly criminal activity :wink:

Ahh, so slightly immoral, although technically legal? In that case, I’d think I’d go for a pyramid scheme, something along the lines of Amway or Herbalife. Although I’d say those guy are quite a few rungs below pet psychics on the Morality Meter™ imho.

I 'd sell stuff to audiophiles. Being an electrical engineer, I could write way better technobabble than some of the companies in that industry do.

And if they’re pleased with their purchase - even though it doesn’t do anything- how wrong can it be?

That reminds me of the movie where Judge Reinhold and his wife kidnap Bette Midler. I can’t think of the name. But early on in the movie he works in a stereo store and can’t bring himself to sell an expensive system to a teenage kid and his pregnant teenage wife/girlfriend. He’s too moral to sell retail! :stuck_out_tongue:

Faith healer + head of a megachurch.

Ruthless People!

“I’ve been kidnapped by K-mart.”

Ruthless People, a movie I had forgotten existed.

I’ve always thought that with just a little bit more cynicism in me I would sell religion. Back when I was a believer it was often mentioned that I could deliver a very inspirational message.

One step further than Khadaji’s suggestion… Invent a religion.

Eh, it’s too hard to make real money with that, though. (Scientology’s the exception, not the rule). You’re better off trying to start a mega-church.

Dietary supplements.

  1. Mix up anything you want. It doesn’t have to taste good, but it should be edible, as in not made of poison.

  2. Claim it makes people lose weight, or enlarges men’s penises.

  3. Profit. As long as you have that well-known disclaimer “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration,” you’re golden.

I guess it would be an advance fee scam or some other email-based fraud. Because turning me into a terrible person would not necessarily equip me with the balls to defraud people face to face.

I don’t really think I could make it in the fast-paced world of fraud - I’m just an awful liar and not a good people person. I’d certainly have to do something that isn’t face to face, like advance fee fraud.

Yeah, see, there’s the rub–in order to pull off that kind of job, I’d have to suddenly be infused with the abiliity to flat-out lie to someone. Face-to-face. I know about animals and could help them solve their problems… but I’m just not the kind of person that can lie to someone and take their money even if it accomplishes exactly what the person wants to accomplish in the end. As a dog trainer, they’d want to pay me $20 a month and drag themselves to class. As a “pet psychic”, they’d throw $120 an hour at me… but I just don’t have the sufficient sleaze to legally defraud.
Ah well, good thing I like my job :slight_smile: