How to Become a World Class Cheat

I have had it with working in a call centre

I am under-valued, over-worked and my boss is an idiot (I do hope he isn’t reading this).  I need to make some fast, easy money instead.  I am going to turn to a life of crime, to become a liar, cheat and first class swindler.

I will be the greatest con-man the world has ever known.

But before I hand in my notice and take up my new position I think it would be wise to carry out a benchmarking survey, to find out who I can learn from, who were the world’s biggest swindlers?  What makes a world-class cheat?

This is what Google has taught me…

Sport – Dora Ratjen

Dora was a German athlete in the 1936 Olympics.  But Dora wasn’t a Dora at all, she was actually a Heinrich.  Legend has it that the Hitler Youth “persuaded” a young man to cross dress and compete in the high jump.

Legends are not always entirely correct but Dora was certainly a man with a troubled past.  Worst still he didn’t even win a medal, he only came 4th.

Lesson 1: to create a cheat, put somebody under pressure, instil the fear of god in them

Gambling – Tommy Glenn Carmichael

Tommy was a mechanic who was asked to fix a slot machine.  He realised that if you inserted a strip of metal in exactly the right place you could rig the machine to give a large payout.  To prove his point Tommy set out on a tour of the local casinos, leaving a trail of jackpots in his wake.

Of course he got caught, he had to go straight, now he designs anti cheating devices for a living.

Lesson 2: to create a cheat offer a big cash incentive

Politics – Richard Nixon

Tricky Dicky was keen on being re-elected as president of the United States.  So keen that he ordered five of his staff to break into the Democrat’s head office to tap the phones and photograph documents.  Not totally happy with the success of the first break in Nixon got greedy and sent them back for a second go.  They got sloppy.

The ensuing Watergate scandal didn’t do much for Mr Nixon’s re-election bid.  Worse still I don’t even think he managed to hold onto the film rights.

Lesson 3: to create a cheat give the winner status, a lot of status

Relationships – Scotty Wolfe

Scotty was a charming man.  He held the record for the largest number of monogamous marriages, twenty-nine of them.  There is no proof that Scotty cheated on any of his wives.  But it seems unlikely that to court, marry and divorce so many women he wouldn’t have engaged in a little “parallel processing”.

By the time he died Scotty had 29 wives, 19 children, 40 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.  On his death, not one of them stepped up to claim his body.

Lesson 4: people cheat on things they don’t care about

Finance – Charles Ponzi

Charles was possibly the greatest swindler of them all.  In the 1920’s he persuaded the people of the US to hand over their savings, guaranteeing a 50% return in 50 days.  All he did was rob Peter to pay Paul.  When his scheme collapsed he brought 5 banks down with him.

On his death bead Charles said “I have given them the best show … since the landing of the Pilgrims!  It was easily worth fifteen million bucks”

Lesson 5: a world-class cheat shows no remorse

So what did I learn?

I’m sticking with my plan, I will still become a master swindler, but I need to move on first, to find the right environment to learn my trade first.  After all it’s not like we:

  • Create lots of pressure – measure people to death
  • Provide big cash sums– bonus payments and incentives
  • Bestow status – leader boards or “employees of the month”
  • Don’t care – Sales rates and handle times make the world go round
  • Are lacking remorse – People love their jobs, they would be devastated if they had to work anywhere else

I will never get any experience here, nobody is ever going to cheat the system in a call centre.

How about where you work?

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  1. HI James,
    My Dad taught me that cheating and the telling of lies doesn’t pay. I believe and trust him. I think all of your examples would agree with that don’t you think?


  2. Hello James

    I continue to marvel at the naivety/stupidity of ‘bosses’ and the ingenuity of the workers.

    I know that there is an addiction to “what gets measured gets done”. And my experience, time after time, industry after industry, company after company is that the it is more like “that which is measured gets manipulated”.

    I have come across this ‘gaming the system’ at the level of the call centre employee right through to the level of the VP. Sometimes, i wonder what the organisation would be able to achieve if the staff were to use their ingenuity in service of the mission as opposed to making their KPi’s.


    • James Lawther says:

      Thanks for the comment Maz, there is I think an interesting nuance / interpretation here.

      Personally I like measures, they tell me what is going on. I also quite like targets and goals, they give me something to aim for. What is interesting though is that the minute a target is imposed from outside then all sorts of bizarre behaviour starts.

      And as you rightly say I also

      “continue to marvel at the naivety/stupidity of bosses”