In Pictures: 6 more great movies about social engineering and con artists

Another look at movies starring scammers, hustlers and hackers.

  • The Sting Small-time con man Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) teams up with legendary scam artist Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) after Hooker incurs the wrath of crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Known as the king of the “long con,” Gondorff helps Hooker, and recruits many other con men to help out as well. The group manages to eventually swindle Lonnegan out of $500,000 in a meticulously planned-out scheme involving a poker game cheat, a fake FBI agent, and a phony off-track betting parlor.

  • The Hustler Another Paul Newman film - apparently Newman likes playing shysters? - featuring pool shark and con artist Fast Eddie Felson. Felson has his associate, Charlie (Myron McCormick), beat him on the table so his targets underestimate his skill. Others then step up to challenge him and make bets. Once the stakes get high, Eddie ups his game for the win. Felson challenges legendary player Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), and ends up on top for a while. But a cocky attitude and too much bourbon eventually lead to a big loss for Eddie -- which is exactly how Minnesota Fats had planned it all along. Newman reprised the role of Fast Eddie in the 1986 Tom Cruise film “The Color of Money.”

  • The Grifters The plot centers around three con artists trying to outwit one another. The players are Roy Dillon (John Cusack), Myra Langtry (Annette Bening) and Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston). Roy is a small-time swindler who fixes dice games and pulls simple social engineering cons, such as showing a bartender a $20 and then quietly switching it for a $10 (which backfires when the bartender proves to be both alert and aggressive). Myra wants to team up with Roy for a long con. Lilly, Roy’s mother, works for a sports-gambling operation, and visits racetracks to place large bets at the last minute to manipulate the odds.

  • White Men Can't Jump Woody Harrelson plays Billy Hoyle, a former college basketball player who hustles streetballers on the courts around Venice Beach. The regular players assume Billy can’t play because of how he looks, and Billy dresses the part of a chump to further the misconception. After Hoyle cons local court star Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes), the two team up and fool other unsuspecting players by pretending not to know each other and having Billy pose as an ignorant observer who has no basketball knowledge or skills. The punch line: Sidney eventually cons Billy by secretly setting up a game with his own friends and intentionally losing, therefore hustling Billy out of hundreds of dollars.

  • Hackers Filled with classic social engineering moves, one of the first scenes in the movie involves hacker Dade Murphy (Johnny Lee Miller) posing as an accountant and calling a security guard. “Do you know anything about computers?” he asks (knowing full well the answer is no). “My BLT drive just went AWOL.” With a few other ridiculous acronyms and fake names, Dade gets the modem number he is after and hacks into a television station’s computer network, changing the current programming to an episode of “The Outer Limits.” Later scenes include other social engineering tactics, such as dumpster diving to find documents for pretexting, and having con artists pose as delivery workers in order to steal information.

  • Paper Moon Moze Pray (Ryan O'Neal) is a con man whose life is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of an orphan name Addie Loggins (Tatum O'Neal), who claims to be his daughter. After warming to Addie, Moze allows her to pose as his daughter in an ongoing ruse where he pretends to be a Bible salesman. Moze targets recently widowed women and informs them that their deceased husband had recently purchased an expensive, personalized Bible. The women pay exorbitant amounts of money for the book, and Moze and Addie head off for the next victim.

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