Cambridge Con Artists - friday 2006-05-19 0600 last modified 2006-05-19 0600
Categories: Daily Grind
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You know that shell game, the one where a guy has three shells and one ball, and as he shuffles them around you're supposed to bet money on guessing correctly where the shell is? The one where he shows you how the game is played, then loses enough to make you confident you can bet and beat him, then pulls some sleight of hand and shuffles the ball off to either the wrong shell or his pocket?

They still operate. There's an older black man with graying hair and a fair amount of facial hair, crooked teeth, and bottle caps and a little black mat on his lap, a short, young Southeast Asian woman, and a young Hispanic man comprising a confidence gang prowling the streets. It might be larger. I kind of regret not finding a cop at the time to call on them after they tried to draw me in; hell, there's a police station not two blocks from where I ran into them, and they were running their scam in an extremely public place.

They started by having the young woman ask if I was from Boston. Immediate suspicion. Who starts talking to strangers that way? They didn't really have their act together, because even though I said I was, they still tried to play me. Usually they go for tourists. I don't recall how they segued into the actual con game, but I found myself "winning" along with the girl without actually playing. The black guy playing with the shells tried to hand each of us $20 while the Hispanic guy was telling me I should take it because "you already won." First they wanted to see my money.

I told them I didn't have any for their game, smiled, and walked away.

Don't get played.



A couple months ago I actually witnessed this on the red line in a train. In that context, it seemed more amusing than anything. Because one guy kept putting money down and losing and I couldn't help but wonder why he kept going back for more.

Danny Park on May 19, 2006 02:47 PM

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