I've got a natural ability to talk people into things.
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, people called me Fonzie; they would say, "Hey, Fonzie, that mouth of yours is gonna make you a million dollars someday." In my neighborhood, 500 families lived on my street, giving me a lot of parents to manipulate. I played the heartstrings; I intimidated; I made people feel bad for me.
Gradually, it dawned on me that this was the dark side of corporate America. So you couple that with my experience selling over the phone in Florida and you have the perfect storm. Swindling is really acting, and you play a character who will help you appear legitimate, confident and successful … I've trained hundreds of salesmen who worked in scam boiler rooms.
But by then I had developed my own dark side — drug addiction. And I always told them to picture themselves with the big sprawling office, sitting behind the mahogany desk, with the family portrait on the credenza.
I first tried heroin when I was 22, and became instantly addicted. Your autographed football and jerseys are hanging on the wall, along with awards and several pictures of you posing with famous actors.
To find a client's emotional need, I'll ask a bunch of personal questions.You might be thinking, "Oh, those get-rich-quick scams are obvious, and I would never fall for one." When I hear someone say that only stupid people fall for fraud, I feel like asking for that person's phone number.But here's the thing: I didn't want to talk to stupid people, because stupid people don't have ,000 lying around to give me.I guess people see an Adam West or an Ernest Borgnine (we also hired him) on TV and assume the product he's selling is the real deal or he wouldn't be selling it.But the celebrity's contract frequently states that he or she cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the claims in the script. Those who believe they'd never fall for a scam don't realize it's not about how smart you are; it's about how well you control your emotions.