Inside the Paisley Hotel, the morning sessions of the crime convention were just wrapping up. Kyle Fleming, the FBI agent from Florida, had given such an informative, albeit amusing lecture the day before on con artists, that he’d been asked to fill in for another speaker who canceled at the last minute. Fleming had always been fascinated by the number of people in the world who were crooks.
“Big-time crooks, small-time crooks, they’re all out there just dying for your money,” he’d said. “Some of them will do just about anything to get it. The people who interest me are not the ones who climb through a window and rob you blind. Anyone can try that. Anyone can steal your purse when you turn your back at the airport. It’s the crooks who gain your trust, your confidence, and then rob you blind. That’s what really hurts. So many of them get away with these crimes because people are too embarrassed to come forward with their stories.
“Con artists come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them are masters at changing their appearance so they’re not easily detected. They move around, hit a target, and then they’re gone. That’s what makes them hard to catch.
“Here are a few of my favorites…”
He showed slides of several people and talked about each one.
“This smooth operator had several wives who obviously didn’t know about each other. He bilked them of their savings and broke their hearts. He may not look like Romeo, but he obviously had something…
“This couple would blow into big cities, create an image of success by throwing lavish parties to which they’d invite people they barely knew, then get some of these same people who were impressed by it all to invest in their scams…”
Members of the audience asked so many questions that Fleming didn’t get to all his slides. He’d been about to flash the photo of Georgette Hughes on the screen when he looked at his watch.
“This next one is a crook who is a master at changing her look, but I think she deserves ten minutes, and our time is up,” he concluded.
The crowd groaned.
Nora stood. “I think it’s safe to say that we’d all love for Kyle to continue. I certainly hope he’ll join us again next year.”
The crowd gave an enthusiastic round of applause as Nora went over to shake Kyle’s hand. “Kyle, are you free tonight? I’ve invited a number of the people here to a cocktail party down at the Settlers’ Club. It’s their one hundredth anniversary. Then we’ll go for a late dinner.”
“Thanks, Nora,” Kyle said. “I’ll try to stop by. But I already have plans.”