Deception is always the best strategy, but the best deceptions require a screen
of smoke to distract people's attention from your real pur pose. The bland
exterior-like the unreadable poker face-is often the perfect smoke screen,
hiding your intentions behind the comfortable and familiar. If you lead the
sucker down a familiar path, he won 't catch on when you lead him into a

In 1910, a Mr. Sam Geezil of Chicago sold his warehouse business for close
to $1 million. He settled down to semiretirement and the managing of his
many properties, but deep inside he itched for the old days of deal-making.
One day a young man namedJoseph Weil visited his office, wanting to buy
an apartment he had up for sale. Geezil explained the terms: The price was
$8,000, but he only required a down payment of $2,000. Weil said he
would sleep on it, but he came back the following day and offered to pay
the full $8,000 in cash, if Geezil could wait a couple of days, until a deal
Weil was working on came through. 

Even in semiretirement, a clever businessman like Geezil was curious as to how Weil would be able to come up
with so much cash (roughly $ 150,000 today) so quickly. Weil seemed reluctant to say, and quickly changed the subject, but Geezil was persistent. Finally, after assurances of confidentiality, Weil told Geezil the following
Weil's uncle was the secretary to a coterie of multimillionaire financiers. These wealthy gentlemen had purchased a hunting lodge in
Michigan ten years ago, at a cheap price. They had not used the lodge for a
few years, so they had decided to seIl it and had asked Weil's uncle to get
whatever he could for it. For reasons-good reasons-of his own, the uncle
had been nursing a grudge against the millionaires for years; this was his
chance to get back at them. He would seIl the property for $35,000 to a setup man (whom it was Weil's job to find). The financiers were too wealthy to
worry about this low price. The set-up man would then turn around and
seIl the property again for its real price, around $155,000. The uncle, Weil,
and the third man would split the profits from this second sale. It was all
legal and for a good cause-the uncle's just retribution.
Geezil had heard enough: He wanted to be the set-up buyer. Weil was
reluctant to involve hirn, but Geezil would not back down: The idea of a
large profit, plus a little adventure, had hirn champing at the bit. Weil explained that Geezil would have to put up the $35,000 in cash to bring the
deal off. Geezil, a millionaire, said he could get the money with a snap of
his fingers. Weil finally relented and agreed to arrange a meeting between
the uncle, Geezil, and the financiers, in the town of Galesburg, Illinois.
On the train ride to Galesburg, Geezil met the uncle-an impressive
.1 1"111 r "I"<: OF ISHAE I .

H·:IC\S \\ OHSIlIP Oie
Tl f l·: IDOL BA·A L
Then fehu assembled
all the people, and said
to them, "Ahab served
Ba ' al a fittle; but fehu
will serve hirn much
more. Now therefore
call to me a/l th e
prophets of Ba 'al, all
his worshippers and all
his priests; let none be
missing, for I have a
greal sacrifice to olIer
to Ba 'al; whoever is
missing shall not live. "
But fehu did it with
cunning in order to
destroy the worshippers of Ba 'al.
And fehu ordered,
"Sanctify a solemn
assembly for Ba 'al. " So
Ihey proclaimed it. And
.fehu sent throughout
all Israel; and all the
worshippers of Ba 'al
came, so thaI there was
not a man Icft who did
not come. And they
entered the house of
Ba 'al, and the house of
Ba 'al was filled from
one end to the other ....
Then fehu went inlo
the house of Ba 'al ...
and he said to the
worshippers of Ba 'al,
"Search, and see
that there is no servant
ofthe LORD here
LAW 3 23
among you, but only
the worshippers of
Ba 'al. " Then he went in
to offer sacrifices and
burnt offerings.
Now Jehu had
stationed eighty men
outside, and said, " The
man who allows any of
those whom I give into
your hands to escape
shall forfeit his life. "

as soon as he had made
an end of offering the
burnt offering, Jehu
said to the guard and to
the officers, "Go in and
slay them; let not a man
escape. "
So when they put them
to the sword, the guard
and the officers cast
them out and went into
the inner room of the
house of Ba'al and they
brought out the pillar
that was in the house of
Ba'al and burned it.
And they demolished
the pillar of Ba'al and
demolished the house
of Ba 'al, and made it a
latrine to this day.
Thus Jehu wiped out
Ba'al from Israel.
2 KINGS 10:18-28
24 LAW 3
man, with whom he avidly discussed business, Weil also brought along a
companion, a somewhat paunchy man named George Gross. Weil explained to Geezil that he hirnself was a boxing trainer,

 that Gross was one
of the promising prizefighters he trained, and that he had asked Gross to
come along to make sure the fighter stayed in shape. For a promising
fighter, Gross was unimpressive looking-he had gray hair and a beer
belly-but Geezil was so excited about the deal that he didn't really think
ab out the man's flabby appearance.
Once in Galesburg, Weil and his uncle went to fetch the financiers
while Geezil waited in a hotel room with Gross, who promptly put on his
boxing trunks. As Geezil half watched, Gross began to shadowbox. 

Distracted as he was, Geezil ignored how badly the boxer wheezed after a few
minutes of exercise, although his style seemed real enough. An hour later,
Weil and his uncle reappeared with the financiers, an impressive, intimidating group of men, all wearing fancy suits. The meeting went well and the financiers agreed to sell the lodge to Geezil, who had already had the
$35,000 wired to a local bank.
This minor business now settled, the financiers sat back in their chairs
and began to banter about high finance, throwing out the name 'j. P. Morgan" as if they knew the man. Finally one of them noticed the boxer in the
corner of the room. Weil explained what he was doing there. The financier
countered that he too had a boxer in his entourage, whom he named. Weil
laughed brazenly and exclaimed that his man could easily knock out their
man. Conversation escalated into argument. In the heat of passion, Weil
challenged the men to a bet. The financiers eagerly agreed and left to get
their man ready for a fight the next day.
As soon as they had left, the uncle yelled at Weil, right in front of
Geezil: They did not have enough money to bet with, and once the financiers discovered this, the uncle would be fired. Weil apologized for getting hirn in this mess, but he had a plan: He knew the other boxer well, and
with a little bribe, they could fix the fight. But where would the money
come from for the bet? the uncle replied. Without it they were as good as
dead. Finally Geezil had heard enough. Unwilling to jeopardize his deal
with any ill will, he offered his own $35,000 cash for part of the bet. Even if
he lost that, he would wire for more money and still make a profit on the
sale of the lodge. The uncle and nephew thanked hirn. With their own
$15,000 and Geezil's 1$35,000 they would manage to have enough for the
bet. That evening, as Geezil watched the two boxers rehearse the fix in
the hotel room, his mind reeled at the killing he was going to make from both
the boxing match and the sale of the lodge.
The fight took place in a gym the next day. Weil handled the cash,
which was placed for security in a locked box. Everything was proceeding as planned in the hotel room. The financiers were looking glum at
how badly their fighter was doing, and Geezil was dreaming about the easy
money he was about to make. Then, suddenly, a wild swing by the financier's fighter hit Gross hard in the face, knocking hirn down. When he
hit the canvas, blood spurted from his mouth. He coughed, then lay still.
One of the financiers, a former doctor, checked his pulse; he was dead.

millionaires panicked: Everyone had to get out before the police arrivedthey could all be charged with murder.
Terrified, Geezil hightailed it out of the gym and back to Chicago, leaving behind his $35,000 which he was only too glad to forget, for it seemed
a small price to pay to avoid being implicated in a crime. He never wanted
to see Weil or any of the others again.
After Geezil scurried out, Gross stood up, under his own steam. The
blood that had spurted from his mouth came from a ball filled with chicken
blood and hot water that he had hidden in his cheek. The whole affair had
been masterminded by Weil, better known as "the Yellow Kid," one of the
most creative con artists in history. Weil split the $35,000 with the financiers and the boxers (all fellow con artists)-a nice little profit for a few
days' work.
SI\E.�K AC ROSS 'j'1 J f:
0(:1-:,\:\ L\ BHOAD
This means to create a
front that eventually
becomes imbued with
an atmosphere or
impression of familiarity, within wh ich the
strategist may maneuver unseen while all
eyes are trained to see
obvious familiarities.
Interpretation THOMAS CLEARY, 1 991
The Yellow Kid had staked out Geezil as the perfect sucker long before he
set up the con. He knew the boxing-match scam would be the perfect ruse
to separate Geezil from his money quickly and definitively. But he also
knew that if he had begun by trying to interest Geezil in the boxing match,
he would have failed miserably. He had to conceal his intentions and
switch attention, create a smoke screen-in this case the sale of the lodge.

 On the train ride and in the hotel room Geezil's mind had been completely occupied with the pending deal, the easy money, the chance to
hobnob with wealthy men. He had failed to notice that Gross was out of
shape and middle-aged at best. Such is the distracting power of a smoke
screen. Engrossed in the business deal, Geezil's attention was easily diverted to the boxing match, but only at a point when it was already too late
for hirn to notice the details that would have given Gross away. The match,
after all, now depended on a bribe rather than on the boxer's physical condition. And Geezil was so distracted at the end by the illusion of the boxer's death
that he completely forgot about his money.
Learn from the Yellow Kid: The familiar, inconspicuous front is the
perfect smoke screen. Approach your mark with an idea that seems ordinary enough-a business deal, financial intrigue. The sucker's mind is distracted, his suspicions allayed. That is when you gently guide hirn onto the
second path, the slippery slope down which he slides helplessly into your

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