Confessions of a con artist

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 14 2014 01:21:34 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 17 2014 10:40:00 PM EST

The book tells it all.

“I began writing my own books when I came home from prison five years ago,” said a former thief who goes by the name “Mack Mama.” “I just submerged myself in street life; the streets raised me.”

It’s the story of a young girl from a good home who wanted to fit in with the wrong girls.

“I wanted to be with those girls from Brooklyn, the fly girls that were getting money. You know, I was fascinated by them,” Mack Mama said.

To fit in, she shot victims, sold drugs, scammed the unsuspecting, and learned to steal; the department store Macy’s was a prime target.

“I would come in on the Eighth Avenue exit, and get arrested. I’d go back around to the Sixth Avenue side, go back in and continue stealing,” she said.

The criminal behavior landed “Mack Mama” behind bars.

“It’s like you have a Ph.D., you go in for one crime and you come out learning four more. I learned how to be corrupt; I learned how to make a person believe me,” she said.

Fraud detectives, like Detective Jacqueline Fofana with the Fraud and Forgery Department with Columbus Police in Ohio, say the goal of thieves and con artists is always to win your trust.

“They're professionals, so they seek out people,” warned Fofana.

Fofana says women are easy prey.

“Once they see that you're vulnerable then that's when they take advantage of you,” she said.

One of the top scams involves rogue door-to-door contractors. If they claim work for a big discount, watch out. Also popular, affinity fraud uses one friend to get other friends to invest in something. And watch out for twisted text prizes. Thieves are just trolling for your personal information.

Remember, con artists are master manipulators. They use your greed, your emotions, and your desperation.

“Women get involved because of sometimes drug use, sometimes it's because they have children, and they have to care for them,” Fofana said.

Both women say you can protect yourself. First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t allow the con artist to make you feel guilty. Ask for offers in writing. Ask for a meeting with your accountant or attorney, request references, and never act immediately.

If you believe you are being targeted by a con artist, check them out with the National Financial Fraud Exchange at fraud.org.

“Protect your property, protect yourself,” “Mack Mama” said.

Since leaving the life of crime “Mack Mama” is now a published author, singer, and mentor to young girls.

Additional Information:

As society becomes more technology-dependent, scams and cons become more prominent. In fact, a National Institute of Justice survey found 58 percent of Americans have been the victim of fraud or attempted fraud. Staying educated on popular kinds of scams or fraud can often be an easy way to keep you safe. Here are some of the most popular scams women statistically tend to fall for:

Miracle health cures: These scams promote some sort of “cure” for anything from cancer, to wrinkles, to even obesity. For a high price you can receive the “cure,” which will more than likely not do anything for you.

Psychic scams: Usually mailing schemes, these perpetrators will usually promise to tell you your future in return for money. They will often use bad or negative warnings to get people to hear their “fortune.”

Internet matrix scams: Like a pyramid scheme, but on the internet, these scams will use advertisements to lure victims with the promise of gifts if enough people sign up. Many never see any gifts.

Career opportunity scams: These scams rely on victims paying a fee for a conference, training, or class that will give them a new job. Many of the perpetrators will set up a fake recruiting agency in order to seem real.

(Sources:gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/118469/fraud-typologies.pdf, http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud)

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