The Con Game

We are all susceptible. No one is immune. Any one of us could become the target of a smooth-talking con man in a nanosecond. He knows that people instinctively want to improve the quality of their lives. He knows all the moves. He particularly knows how to convince people that he’s trustworthy. He becomes your best friend, the protector of your family values, the answer to all your hopes and dreams. Although, in reality, he’s the devil incarnate.

In the United States, the typical fraudster is a college-educated male, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' Report to the Nation in 2012. The report indicates that males tend to account for roughly two-thirds of all fraud cases, a ratio that has been fairly consistent in its last three studies. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said it found that male fraudsters tend to cause losses that are more than twice as high as the losses caused by females. According to its Report to the Nation in 2012, the median loss in a scheme committed by a male was $200,000, while the median loss for a female was $91,000.

Interestingly enough, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that the highest number of fraud cases came from the banking and financial services, government and public administration and manufacturing sectors. The Association discovered that the mining, real estate, construction and oil and gas sectors, however, reported the highest median losses due to fraud.

I am the father of two young adults. My wife of 26 years, Malgosia, and I cringe at the thought of the very real possibility that someone, someday, will offer our kids a get-rich-quick scheme that could end in tragedy. Each time I record a show where I witness victims who have been scammed, who have lost everything-their homes, their life savings, their dreams for the future, I am angry and frustrated. People, who have been victims of medical fraud, for me, are the worst. It is almost unimaginable that someone could dilute cancer medication in order to pocket the money. Or, cut up body parts and sell them on the black market. Yet, these things are happening every day.

Believe it or not, my very own grandfather was the victim of a scam back in the 1950s and I’ve never forgotten it. I explain just what happened in the video you see above.

Hopefully, our show will help to raise awareness of these terrible crimes, and perhaps, a collective consciousness will be born that will help to stifle the advances of fraudulent perpetrators. One thing we know for certain: human greed will never end.

And so, the message is simple.

Before you write the check,



If something sounds too good to be true,

It generally is.

Editor’s Note: Stacy Keach is the voice of CNBC’s “American Greed” and “American Greed: The Fugitives.” As it turns out, he is no stranger to the devastating effects of greed himself. In this column, Keach recalled how his family was victimized by greedy fraudsters.

Through the new series “American Greed: The Fugitives,” Keach highlights the alleged crooks who have yet to be brought to justice. He hopes his work will help those who were victimized by greed.

Keach is an award-winning actor in theatre, film and television, who has been awarded two Golden Globes for Best Actor. He recently co-starred in Universal Picture’s new feature film “The Bourne Legacy.”

Tune in:

Watch "American Greed: The Fugitives" on CNBC. It premieres August 15 at 9P ET and re-airs at 12A ET