National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Are You a Sucker? Facts

Internet fraud is massive and the more connected you are, the more you are exposed to it.  One U.S. survey revealed that 98% of 18-29 year olds regularly surf the web - compared to 56% of individuals over 65.

Internet fraud is massive and the more connected you are, the more you are exposed to it. One U.S. survey revealed that 98% of 18-29 year olds regularly surf the web - compared to 56% of individuals over 65. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

Published
  • At least 75% of Americans believe that advertising agencies use subliminal advertising.

  • In a study of 329 Ponzi schemes, the average rate of return promised by the scammers was 282.2%.

  • In 2007, a press release sent out by a Florida police department created a nationwide panic over a drug called "Jenkem," that was allegedly made from human manure.

  • Meditating can actually make you more observant! If you do it six hours a day for three months, according to one study.

  • People still believe in the stereotype of car salesmen as untrustworthy: a 2012 poll found them ranked lowest in honesty and ethical standards…just below congressmen and people in advertising. By the way, nurses were listed as most trustworthy.

  • The most common type of file attached to a "phishing" type Internet scam is .rtf; the second most common is .xls, then .zip.

  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the word “sucker” to mean someone who is easily conned dates to 1838!

  • But the term "sucker punch" – an unexpected blow – didn’t turn up until 1947.

  • The card scam Three Card Monte has been around in some form since at least 1408.

  • The suckers of giant squid are surrounded by a tooth-like serrated edge made of the same substance as your fingernails.

  • Legendary con man Victor Lustig once "sold" the Eiffel Tower to an unsuspecting man – for $70,000, the equivalent of over $900,000 today!

  • Have you ever heard of the country of Poyais? Probably not, because it never existed – but in the 1800s a con man convinced hundreds of settlers to sail from Britain to this fake country in modern-day Honduras, where he claimed he was a prince. They gave him over 200,000 British pounds – the equivalent of $21 million today.

  • The story for the 1941 movie “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break” was written by its star, W.C. Fields – using the fake name "Otis Criblecoblis."

  • The most commonly counterfeited items the U.S. Customs agency catches being smuggled into the country are handbags and wallets; they account for 40% of all counterfeit goods seized.

  • In 2013, con artists scammed $1.8 million in cash and $500,000 in jewelry from people in New York City, by claiming that they could infuse the owner' belongings with "good luck."