What is a Grifter?
A grifter is essentially a con artist and will use a number of different scams and tricks to defraud individuals or casinos. A grifter will usually operate around gambling establishments and is always on the lookout for an unsuspecting ‘mark’, or victim, to take advantage of.
For years, people have been trying to get something for nothing and that is exactly what a grifter does. Also known as a ‘scammer’, ‘chiseler’ or ‘defrauder’, this person will pick out a specific target, known as the ‘mark’ and will work out a way in which they can trick this person into giving them money. A grifter may work alone or, alternatively, in conjunction with one or more partners who help to scam the victim.
There are many examples of schemes which a grifter can employ to make illegitimate money, but one of the oldest and most famous is the wire scam. This grifter con was most commonly associated with horse racing, but no longer exists due to advances in security technology.
In order to pull off a wire scam, a grifter would choose a mark who seemed to be down on their luck. They would convince this person that they had information about forthcoming races and that they were willing to share the information with the mark. The grifter would normally have a small fake betting shop, with a delayed television feed. This would allow the grifter to see the results of the races before they appeared on the TV screen in the fake shop. Once the mark had placed a few winning bets, they would be persuaded to place a huge wager, at which point the grifter would tell them to bet on a horse that they knew had not won the race.
A grifter is someone who relies on their wits to get them through life and will always try to look for an edge as opposed to taking the legitimate approach to making money.