I was up late doing some writing last night and I got to thinking about the villain of the piece I’m working on. He’s basically a con artist. The way I see it, there are two major types of con artist: those who exploit greed, and those who take advantage of pity. Both are pretty repulsive, but I think the ones who make their trade off of greed are slightly less evil.
The villain isn’t going to be one of those.
Greed based con artists set up situations where their mark thinks that they are going to profit from someone else’s stupidity. It could be a fake land deal, or an expert tricked into paying top dollar for a forgery, or any number of other cons. In any case, the buyer thinks that they’re pulling a fast one on the seller, when the opposite is actually true. I guess a greed con is sort of like judo, but with money.
Pity cons are a different deal. The mark thinks they’re helping a deserving person or cause, when actually their contributions are lining the pockets of the con artist. For each of these types, the aftermath when the con falls apart is very different. Both marks will be angry, obviously, but the victim of a pity con is more likely to be disillusioned.
The victim of a greed scam is more likely to be cautious about their business dealings in the future. In the end, they’re out the money they put in, and they may benefit from the lesson. The victim of a pity scam has just been punished for their charity. They’re less likely to be philanthropic in the future, which hurts everyone whom they might have helped.
So. Some villainous philosophy there. We’ll see how it goes in the story.