Across the country there are criminals who make their living by taking advantage of whoever they can.

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2004

Whether it’s a complicated confidence scam, an identity theft or the &uot;pigeon drop&uot; that robbed a Selma woman of $3,000 last week, these criminals often get a kinder reputation than the average mugger or stick up man.

Because these criminals steal mostly with their fast-talking mouths and their quick-thinking minds, they get cute nicknames like grifters and Hollywood movies made about them, the most recent was Nicholas Cage’s &uot;Matchstick Men.&uot;

Because most of the time they steal without the threat of violence, they are treated more like modern day Robin Hoods than the vile creatures they are.

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Theft, in any situation, is obviously wrong.

But whether their prey are simply too trusting or too feeble to know better, it is despicable to take advantage.

The Selma woman was fooled by a couple of big bills wrapped around some newspaper wads and the promise of a quick profit.

What she got instead a bank account emptied of $3,000.

The robbers, who told the woman they’d found a purse with $100,000 in it, have probably long since skipped Selma.

They’ll move on to another town where they can find a trusting victim to steal from.

These people operate on get-rich-quick dreams, they promise maximum result for minimum effort.

They paint a pretty picture that on the surface seems too good to be true.

The thing to remember is, if it seems too good to be true it is.

Let’s hope the next victim this couple tries to prey on is too smart and calls the authorities.

The con-artists lifestyle is a lot less ready for Hollywood when it ends behind bars.