Three-card Monte

A 77-year-old man got swindled in an odd game of Three-card Monte (Image: capitolcommentary)

Three-card Monte may be one of the oldest con games around, and it is still alive and well in many parts of the world. The game itself is simple: the dealer mixes up three cards, one of which is a different color than the other two (usually the queen of hearts and two black cards). Find the right card, and the player wins! Of course, everyone knows that the game is a scam, and it’s unlikely that any of our readers would ever fall for such a trick.

Unlikely, but not impossible.

Taken for a Ride

A 77-year-old Kentucky man was scammed out of nearly $10,000 in cash and other valuables as part of a Three-card Monte scheme in Cartersville. The victim arrived at truck stop on Thursday morning, when he was approached by a man who told him that someone was giving away money after having won the lottery.

The victim went to investigate, and followed the man to an area between two semis, where a second man was standing with a box. Inside the box were the classic implements of the Three-card Monte game: two black cards and one red card.

The victim was then told he could win money by picking the red card, and he proceeded to do so – several times in a row, in fact. After doubling his bets, he had won $400.

That’s when the scam really went into motion. The scammers flashed some $100 bills at the victim, and challenged him to double his bet again. This time, he put down a total of $600 along with a couple of rings and a watch he had been wearing.

Collusion

But just as the victim thought he was going to strike it rich, a third man in a uniform stepped in to break up the game. That man said that they had been having problems in the area related to illegal gambling, which caused the first two men to grab the money and jewelry and run. The victim was prevented from chasing after them by the man in uniform, who disappeared shortly thereafter – which made the victim realize the entire game had been a scam.

This is just one of several ways in which the game of Three-card Monte can be used to scam victims into losing money. In this case – and in other similar schemes – the goal is obvious: simply get the victim to put as much money (or other valuables) in play and then break up the game at an opportune moment. With the victim distracted, the scammers will be long gone before the victim even realizes what has happened to them- or has the wherewithal to do anything about it.

More straightforward approaches have also been used in conjunction with this game to part fools from their money. In many street corner games found in cities around the world, the dealer will simply use sleight-of-hand techniques (perhaps after losing the first few hands to gain the victim’s confidence) to ensure that the victim can’t keep track of where the red card is. Even if the victim does happen to find the right card, they can simply take a larger bet from a shill who is in on the scam, saying that this gives them the right to play that hand.

An incident report was filed with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, but there’s no word on whether or not police have any leads that will help them find the scammers.