Former scammer tells all

Convicted con man now hopes to help people avoid becomming victims

Author: Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Nov 22 2013 06:34:00 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 21 2013 10:40:00 PM EST

A twice-convicted conman is explaining how he lured his victims, in the hopes of helping you recognize a scam.

"I basically learned that investors are greedy," said former con-artist John Conley.

Conley should know.  He has been convicted twice for his roles in various telemarketing investment schemes.

"The whole point of telemarketing is to win over the people with your personality and that personality can be whatever you choose for the day," said Conley.

Conley's most recent scam, a "boiler room" operation where his employees would cold call consumers and convince them to invest in oil and gas leases.

"You never take no for an answer," he said. "You just keep pounding and eventually you will hit their greed button."

"John Conley is not unlike many other con artists I see that they are very pleasant people," said US Postal Inspector Roberta Bottoms. "They use their personality to befriend the investor. They prey upon seniors who may be spending a lot of time alone and be lonely so he'll spend a lot of time on the phone with them to earn their trust and take their money."

"Those people are lonely and they won't hang up. So, you can keep talking on the phone. You keep talking and they will literally tell how much is in their bank account," said Conley.

Postal inspectors say more than 100 investors lost $3.5 million in an oil and gas scam.

"John [Conley] made them big promises, he was going to make them rich. He said there was a lot of  oil and gas and he knew where it was, he just needed money to drill the wells and get it to market. And that together he and the investors were going to make a lot of money," said Bottoms.

But those promises were lies.

"He would send them statements, but in reality there was no oil or gas sales, I don't think he ever sold a drop of oil or vapor of gas," said Bottoms. "This is an addiction for him. When he made that sale he got a thrill out of it. The thrill of cheating somebody and knowing he could talk them out of their money was what drove him more than the money.

"I look back on that time and think it's just about the most asinine thing I ever did… because there was an honest way to do it," said Conley.

Postal inspectors say Conley confessed to his role in this scam and testified against his co-conspirator. He spent more than two years in prison for his latest scheme.

Postal inspectors advise you should thoroughly research all investment opportunities and the people associated with them.  If the victims in this case had researched Conley, they would have learned he had been convicted of mail fraud before this scam.