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Don't Drop that Melon - Con History

Due to my recent obsession with the heist-ilious programs White Collar and Leverage, I have engaged myself in what all nerds trapped in the unrelenting claws of fandom do, research. Con research to be exact. One that peeked my interest? The Melon Drop.

The Scenario
The following is a dramatization and should not be confused with actual events, because you couldn't possibly figure that out for yourself. No one respects intelligence anymore, do they?
You, as some poor naïve sap, are wandering the bustling, crowed avenues of an unfamiliar city (take your pick), adorned with buildings so tall you must crane your neck to see the blinking towers at the top. You (the poor, naïve sap, remember?) are looking this way and that, minding your own business when BAM! Some stranger with their arms loaded full of something or other walks right into you. Down you go along with everything the stranger is carrying, with a great echoing SPLAT! The poor, naive sap (that’s you, remember?) immediately stands up, brushes himself off and precedes to apologize to the stranger who walked straight into him.  Except... Rather then return your genial gesture the stranger goes nuts, accusing you of walking into them and destroying their precious something or other. You, being the poor naï- okay you should get this by now, wave your hands around in obvious distress, glancing around to make sure no one is staring at you. The crazy stranger continues to make a scene until you agree to lighten your wallet and pay for their destroyed something or other.
You, you poor naïve sap, have just become a victim of the Melon Drop.
The Set-Up
The Melon Drop is a short con that on average does not gross a great deal. So how does the resourceful confidence-man up his profits? The answer to that question can also explain this con's unique name.
Now reverse you role (about time, right?) and pretend you're the con-man in the situation. If your poor, naïve sap of choice thinks what they “destroyed” is a lot more valuable then it actually is, you'll average a much higher profit for your efforts, correct?  So how does the confidence-man play this angle? He takes advantage of cultural exchange. Thus the victim profile narrows down to one particular ethnicity, Japanese tourists.    
When you roll your cart through the grocery store, have you noticed the price of melons? What is it? Five? Ten dollars? Imagine a country where you have to shell out 100 dollars per seedy, roundish fruit, and you have Japan – a country whose fruit supply is almost entirely imported.
Now put yourself in that sap's shoes again (yeah, I know...). If you “destroyed” an item, how much would you pay the stranger? What you think the fair market rate is, correct? And that's where the con part of of the scam comes in. A Japanese tourist may end up paying a con-man 50 to 100 dollars for a melon that only cost the owner five or six bucks. What a way to be had...
There are multiply variations of the Melon Drop involving different items or other means to collect on a Japanese native who is ignorant of melon prices outside their own country. Many different groups of people have been taken advantage of by daring con-men, and many, MANY juicy, roundish fruits were harmed. So remember... Next time you walk down the street, make sure the melon doesn't drop on you. 
Especially, your foot, because I think that might hurt...



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)
Oooh, smart! I might have to try that out sometime I'll have to look out for people pulling that one.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 06:19 am (UTC)
Now, now... TLE. I won't find you standing on a street corner with a melon waiting for a Japanese tourist to walk by, will I?
Nov. 23rd, 2010 07:30 am (UTC)
I can almost guarantee that you will not. We're in different states.

Nov. 23rd, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
*wonders if posting on the internet qualifies as aiding and abetting juvenile delinquency*
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Only if I'm involved.
Nov. 24th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
That was good!

Have you seen the movie, Grifters with Angelica Huston, John Cusack, and Annette Bening? Great con artist movie.

Edited at 2010-11-24 12:04 am (UTC)
Nov. 24th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!

No I have not, but it just got added to my TBW list. Thanks.
Nov. 24th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Teehee, melons. That's just as hilarious as the 'bug in my soup' con. Yes, Lady Jane I have been paying attention to the con trivia ;)
Nov. 24th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
Ah, the Bug in My Soup scam. One of the many No Such Thing as a Free Lunch cons. The extremes people will go to in order to get free food.

I adore all the con name dropping that goes on in Leverage. Many of them are real, famous cons - The Wire, The Three Card Monte, others are made up names for real cons, some are simply thematics.
Nov. 24th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)

LOL Cuz I nedded a good laugh!

That was very thought-out and witty!

Rip-off artists...

Nov. 27th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Paprika. I was feeling particularly snarky at the time.

I'm sure they would prefer Confidence-Men, Paprika. Confidence-Men... Actually, you might enjoy White Collar. It's like The Thief except with cops.


I've gotten like 10 people on Sounis to watch it, and they've all loved it.
Aug. 29th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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