Posted 29 January 2016
The documentary is about a South African con artist, by the name of Brad Bilton, “who trawls Facebook to scam vulnerable women out of thousands. Responding to posts on Traffic News and hijacking alert groups, he claims to be able to find stolen cars for a fee. Desperate victims pay, then realise too late that they’ve been conned”.
At approximately 5.25 minutes into the program, the presenter states: “Victims describe him as intelligent, persuasive, and charming, typical traits it would seem of a con artist”.
Professor Anni Hesselink, a criminologist in the Department of Criminology & Security Science, UNISA, says: “Such a person would be very, very confident, a pathological liar. A very inflated self-esteem. Opportunistic. Ambitious”. Professor Hesselink said a scamster often pretends to have the solution to a victims problems. He then uses this power to install a sense of security and trust in them. “It is a person who is so narcissistic and so self-centred, a person that is extremely sociable, yet very anti-social with no social conscience. It is a person that is just self-centred”.
This is certainly how we consider descriptions of snake-oil salesmen of the past! And it may be a fair assessment of some present-day sellers of CAM products. Of course today there may be just as many “snake-oil saleswomen”.
Snake oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is themselves a fraud, quack, or charlatan.