What is a ‘Shill’?
A shill is someone who works alongside a confidence trickster during a scam in order to fool unsuspecting victims.
People have a naturally inquisitive and suspicious nature, which can be a problem for con artists, whose sole aim is to trick people into giving away their money. This is where a shill comes in.Working in conjunction with the confidence trickster, a shill will do all they can to make people believe that the scam is not a scam. The most common scenario in which a shill will be used is during a rigged game
. The shill will play the game and, once they inevitably win, they will be given a fairly large amount of money by the confidence trickster.As people walk past, they will see the shill winning repeatedly and so they will think there is a good chance that they can make money themselves. The idea is that people will not think that a scam is going on if they see a 'normal' person making money from it. The more shills that are used, the more convinced passers-by will be that they can make money from the game.A shill can be used in any kind of scam, whether on the streets of a city in an attempt to trick tourists (as above), or at an auction. For example, say an auctioneer is under pressure to make a certain amount of money; this auctioneer might employ a shill to help drive up the price of a painting or artefact by bidding. In this way, other people at the auction will be forced to bid more money and will also be under the impression that the piece on sale is very valuable.While shills are not used nearly as often as they once were, there are still many scams being perpetrated across the world which rely on these deceptive assistants.