Beat Them at Their Own Game

By Abigail Howd, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

FINRA says that Americans lose $50 billion a year due to investment fraud. You would probably like to think you could see through a con artist’s scam, and now, you can put that theory to the test without any risk to your bank account. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation created an online game, Con ‘Em If You Can, where you can try your hand at besting the best fraudsters in town, the town of Shady Acres, that is.

In the game, your goal is to accumulate wealth and strength while avoiding capture by the Fraud Fighting Agency’s ruthless agents. The game first provides you with the “Fraud Tools” that you will need to succeed. Each of these fraud tools is a persuasion technique commonly used by fraudsters:

  • phantom riches – making the con sound both good and true;
  • source credibility – learning to dress, sound, and act the part of an expert;
  • scarcity – tricking customers into believing you have a limited, exclusive deal;
  • social consensus – pressuring clients by telling them their friends entered the deal;
  • reciprocity – giving clients free gifts as incentives to hand over their money.

Your training to become the ultimate trickster will simultaneously teach you some of the methods real fraudsters use.

As you continue your training, you will meet the characters of Shady Acres: (1) Connor, the silver-tongued Con Artist and your personal Mentor; (2) Fiona, the hawk-eyed FFA Agent out to put you in jail; and (3) Catsby, the Big Fish who is your prime target. Don’t worry—there are plenty of other Shady Acre residents for you to swindle out of their money.

While the game is all in good fun, it is a great way to familiarize yourself with how real fraudsters operate. When you are familiar with their tactics, you can better protect yourself, your loved ones, and your finances. If you don’t feel up to playing the game, you can just watch the videos in the Fraud Tools page and take the quiz to test your new knowledge. The purpose of the game is to teach you how to become a fraud fighting machine. In addition to learning the tools fraudsters use, FINRA also recommends that you do two more things before you invest: always check out the seller and always check out the investment.

Once you have mastered the game or scored 100% on the quiz, check out for other fun games and quizzes to put your financial knowledge to the test. Onward, fellow fraud fighters!