Most of us think we would be the last people in the world to be tricked into handing over our hard-earned money for deals that, in retrospect, are obviously phony. But con artists are experts in human psychology and behavior. They know how to win over your confidence with their smooth talk and self-assured manner. Unless you are careful, you may find yourself turning over cash or buying worthless merchandise. You won’t be able to recognize a con artist by the way he or she looks, but you can be on the lookout for some of their “pitches.” Some of the most common cons and swindles in the springtime are bogus home repair offers, fraudulent door-to-door charities, and individuals posing as police officers or bank investigators who claim to be investigating fraudulent tellers or counterfeit schemes. These con artists often target the elderly. Regardless of your age, DC residents are urged to be wary of any “something-for-nothing” offers. Always ask for offers in writing, read over all contracts before you sign, and never agree to “cash-only” deals. Do not hesitate to check the credentials of anyone who comes to your door. Ask to see official identification and inspect it carefully. Legitimate organizations – especially real police officers – will not hesitate to comply. And if you have been victimized by a con artist, please call the police and report it. This is the only way that law enforcement can detect patterns and identify and apprehend offenders. A good rule of thumb in these situations is to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Don’t let your excitement get the best of you. If you are approached by someone (in person, on the phone, or by email) DO NOT send money. If you ever really do win the lottery, the lottery association will arrange to take a portion of the winnings to pay taxes directly out of your winnings.