7 Traits Scam Artists Have in Common

scam alert yellow sign - rectangle sign

Scam artists aren’t always easy to spot at first glance, but once you know what to look for, they are much easier to identify.

Here are 7 traits most scam artists have in common:

1. Likable, Confident Personality

Most scam artists are actually very easy to like. This is one way they build trust with their “marks.” Scam artists are often overly confident in their own abilities — and potential customers are drawn to this confidence because they’re looking for answers.

2. Exorbitantly Expensive Coaching Programs

Most scam artists charge five-figure fees for coaching programs. The fees can be $20,000 or more. And the coaching programs are usually sold by promising future wealth because it’s the only way to justify such high prices.

3. Lots of Outspoken and Unhappy Clients

Scam artists are good at getting paid, but nearly always fail to deliver on their promises. Do some research and you will probably find dozens of unhappy clients who’ve posted complaints online.

4. Selling One Solution While Using Another

Most scam artists sell one solution while using another. For example: Using a product launch to sell an Adwords course. The disconnect is obvious once you know to look for it.

5. Failure to Deliver

In case after case, the scam artist’s basic operation looks like this. Step 1: He or she takes your money. Step 2: There is no step two. Some scam artists actually do deliver something for their fee, but it’s always far short of the outlandish promises.

6. Highly Polished Marketing Combined with Unpolished or Non-Existent Products

Most scam artists spend nearly all of their time marketing and almost none of their time delivering on their promises. Products are not delivered and services are not rendered. Hence, the term “scam artist.”

7. Stage Selling at Big Events

Many scam artists pitch their programs via seminars and other live events. They may speak dozens of times a year because of their ability to sell from the stage. This builds their credibility and helps them perpetuate their scams without being detected.

Do Your Due Diligence!

Anytime you’re considering making a hefty investment with any kind of “guru,” make sure you do your due diligence — especially if it’s a high-priced coaching program. You may even want to use this blog post as a check list to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

Please also remember this: Scam artists do not think of themselves as scam artists. They are often delusional and think they are doing the world a favor. This is another reason so many people get taken in. I hope this list of common traits will help you see through the deception.

-Ryan M. Healy

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy this one: How to Spot a Con Man.


  • Anonymous

    March 22, 2011

    Love it!

    • Ryan Healy

      March 22, 2011

      Thanks, Carlon. :-)

      Yeah, that’s a common thread among scam artists: “I was broke and homeless until I got rich teaching other people how to get rich!”

  • KevinCu

    March 22, 2011

    Hey Ryan,

    Now post the opposite: how to spot a legitimate business, for example #2 above, gives more value that you receive.



    • Ryan Healy

      March 22, 2011

      Good idea, Kevin. Thanks! :-)

  • Ryan Healy

    March 22, 2011

    Speaking of scam artists, beware of James Malinchak, the guy on ABC’s show Secret Millionaire. Here’s insider info from Tom Antion, a guy who has worked closely with James.




    Page 3 is the most intense. If you only have time to read one page, read that one.

  • Noname

    March 23, 2011
    • Ryan Healy

      March 23, 2011

      Just read your link. I don’t have any experience with Jo Han Mok, but if he indeed took $150,000 and didn’t deliver anything… then he certainly qualifies.

  • Nevertrustaninja

    March 23, 2011

    I know one who’s setting up an office in the Phillipines and recruiting a team despite having no… er… product or service to offer. Given that he has spent more money on his ‘SEO education’ than anyone else he claims to know more and be better than anyone else on SEO (despite not having any websites at all).

    My suspicion is that he will be selling high ticket SEO services because he is a leading expert (no one knows about) to local businesses.

    Oh yeah… he’s very charasmatic and easy to get on with.

  • Kim

    March 24, 2011

    Thanks for the great post Ryan. And I would definitely encourage people to simply Google the person and/or name of the business. If they are a scam you will likely see these in top spots after you entered & sent their name in the search bar.

    • Ryan Healy

      March 24, 2011

      You’re welcome, Kim.

      By the way, does your company ever do filming to create products? Or have you ever filmed kids and/or know what kind of releases are needed to do that?

      • Kim McGinnis

        March 24, 2011

        Hi Ryan,
        Yes, we do! Video production is actually a specialty of ours (marketing videos, TV commercials, etc.) and currently we are shooting our feature film. So we are very familiar with talent release forms and there is a special clause for actors that are under 18 years of age. You can email me on my regular email and I could send you a copy of the form we are using if you like.

  • Codrut Turcanu

    April 5, 2011

    And they become better professionals at their scams too!

  • drupal web developer

    April 11, 2011

    Yes,You are right.These are the 7 best common scam artist traits.I like your thoughts and the way you shared your information.Do some research and you will probably find dozens of unhappy clients who’ve posted complaints on line. These makes people easily scam artists traits.