The conman who pulled off history’s most audacious scam

canadian goose jacket In October 1822, Gregor MacGregor, a native of Glengyle, Scotland, made a striking announcement. He was, he said, not only a local banker son, but the Cazique, or prince, of the land of Poyais along canada goose uk outlet Honduras Black River. canadian goose jacket

canada goose store A little larger than canada goose outlet Wales, cheap canada goose uk the country was so fertile it could yield three maize harvests a year. The water, so pure and refreshing it could quench any thirst and as if that weren enough, chunks of gold lined the riverbeds. The trees overflowed with fruit, and the forest teemed with game. Painting an exotic, Edenic vision of a new life abroad, his proposal offered quite the contrast with the rainy darkness and rocky soils of Scotland. canada goose store

canada goose What Poyais lacked, he said, was willing investors and settlers to develop and leverage its resources to the fullest. At the time, investments in Central and South America were gaining in popularity, and Poyais appeared to be a particularly appealing proposition. canada goose

Canada Goose Jackets Scotland didn have any colonies of her own, after all. Could this not be a corner of the new world for her own use? Canada Goose Jackets

buy canada goose jacket Would you have fallen for the scam? MacGregor was a master salesman and when you consider the psychological underpinnings behind con artistry, it is little wonder that many people were indeed fooled. buy canada goose jacket

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Canada Goose sale Con artists have long recognised that persuasion must appeal to two very particular aspects of human motivation the drive that will get people to do something, and the inertia that prevents them from wanting to do it. In 2003, two social psychologists, Eric Knowles at the University of Arkansas and Jay Linn at Widener University, formalised this idea by naming two types of persuasive tactics. Canada Goose sale

canada goose clearance The first, alpha, was far more frequent: increasing the appeal of something. The second, omega, decreased the resistance surrounding something. In the one, you do what you can to make your proposition, whatever it may be, more attractive. You rev up the backstory why this is such a wonderful opportunity, why you are the perfect person to do it, how much everyone will gain, and the like. In the other, you make a request or offer seem so easy as to be a no brainer why wouldn I do this? What do I have to lose? canada goose clearance

Canada Goose Parka Psychologists call it the model of persuasion Canada Goose Parka

Canada Goose Outlet They called the juxtaposition the approach avoidance model of persuasion: you can convince me of something by making me want to approach it and decreasing any reasons I might have to avoid it. According to Columbia University psychologist Tory Higgins, people are usually more likely to be swayed by one or other of the two motivational lines: some people are promotion focused (they think of possible positive gains), and some, prevention focused (they focus on losses and avoiding mistakes). An approach that unites the alpha with the omega appeals to both mindsets, canada goose clearance sale however, giving it universal appeal and it is easy to see how MacGregor proposition offered this potent combination. Canada Goose Outlet

View image of (Credit: Wikipedia)

He published interviews in national papers, for instance, touting the perks Canada Goose online that would come from investing or settling in Poyais. He highlighted the bravery uk canada goose outlet and fortitude that such a gesture would demonstrate: you wouldn just be smart; you would be a real man. The Scottish Highlanders were known for their hardiness and adventurous spirit, he wrote; Poyais would be the ultimate testing ground, a challenge and gift, all in one. He pointed those who needed more convincing to a book on the virtues of the small island nation, canadian goose jacket by the elusive Thomas Strangeways (actually MacGregor himself). His prospectuses enticed the public with their canada goose uk shop masterful promises, their lure of opportunity, their appeal to scarcity, their admonitions not to let this perfect moment pass by.

canada goose coats on sale MacGregor used the six principles of persuasion instinctively canada goose coats on sale

canada goose clearance sale Alone, this powerful mix of alpha and omega can already start to explain the allure of MacGregor idea but his fine tuned approach also incorporates further tactics that must have multiplied its attractiveness. canada goose clearance sale

buy canada goose jacket cheap Consider how canada goose coats many of those MacGregor used instinctively. Reciprocity: you invest with me, and I give you the opportunity of a lifetime a life so wonderful that no one else can give you something comparable. Social validation: you will be the most Scottish of Scotsmen, the most respected of people, a pioneer and role model. Scarcity: act now, for this is not an opening that will remain. If Scotland Canada Goose Outlet doesn sweep Poyais up, someone else will and there goes Canada Goose Jackets the nation one chance at colonial greatness. Strangeways canada goose factory sale surely knows that of which he speaks. If you don trust me, then at least trust him though why wouldn you trust me? After all, I published in the best media of the time. buy canada goose jacket cheap

When the settlers arrived, Canada Goose sale they found the reality to be a stark departure from canada goose coats on sale the brochures: a wasteland

The tactics worked precisely as anticipated. They were beyond successful. Not only did MacGregor canada goose store raise directly the bond market value over his life ran to million, or about billion today but he convinced seven ships worth of eager settlers to make their way across the Atlantic. In September 1822 and January 1823, the first two, the Honduras Packet and the Kennersley Castle, left for the mythical land, carrying some 250 passengers. The mood was high; MacGregor salesmanship had been unparalleled. But when the settlers arrived just under two months later, they found the reality to be a stark departure from the allure of MacGregor brochures. No ports, no developments, no nothing. It was a wasteland.

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canada goose deals For Poyais had never existed. It was a figment of MacGregor fertile mind. He had drawn his investors and colonisers to a desolate part of Honduras and soon, the hardy Scotsmen began dying. The remaining settlers only one third would canada goose black friday sale survive Canada Goose Parka were rescued by a passing ship and taken to Belize. The British Navy recalled the remaining five ships before they reached their destination. MacGregor escaped to France. canada goose deals

canada goose coats If he was at all remorseful, he had a strange way of showing it: not long after his arrival he started the Poyais pitch all over again. His initial investment may have evaporated, but his mastery of the art of persuasion was undiminished. In a matter of months, canada goose uk black friday he had a new group of settlers and investors ready to canada goose clearance go. France, though, was a bit more stringent than England in its passport requirements: when the government saw a flood of applications to a country buy canada goose jacket no one had heard of, a commission was Canada Goose Coats On Sale set to investigate the matter. MacGregor was thrown in jail. After a brief return to Edinburgh, he was forced to flee once more, pursued by the wrath of the original Poyais bondholders. He died in 1845, in Caracas. To this day, the land that was Poyais remains a desolate and undeveloped wilderness testament to the power of the rope in able hands. canada goose coats

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