The Con Artist
A tale of greed and cunning.
Jonas Flint smiled beatifically as he assessed his latest victim across her coffee table. ‘What a beautiful home you have Mrs Triton and in such a stunning location, too.’
Rubie Triton glowed, ‘why, thank you, Mr Flint, my late husband and I bought it in 1965. It’s handy for church and we love the view of the sea, the windmill and the old lifeboat station. Rubie had spent the last ten minutes regaling her visitor with some local history of Lytham-Saint-Anne’s, now he was impatient to press on, though he never showed it
‘Please, would you call me Jonas, Mrs Triton and may I call you Rubie? So much friendlier, don’t you think?’
‘Oh, oh, yes, Jonas, quite.’
Rubie nervously flicked a non-existent crumb from her frumpy twin set. She looked in her late seventies, her blue-rinsed silver hair perched above her unworldly face; her watery blue eyes peered out at the world over wire-framed spectacles. Beside her, a cat curled on a book of crossword puzzles.
Flint opened his laptop then produced a glossy brochure. ‘Learning about your local history is fascinating, Rubie, but I suppose we’d better press on.’
Rubie clasped her hands before her and leaned forward. ‘Oh, yes, please do, Jonas, this is so exciting.’
‘The Brazilian project I outlined on the phone, Rubie, is a new but simple concept. The population of Brazil is growing exponentially and their government is hard-pressed to house them, so they are seeking outside investors.’
‘I see, and that’s where your company comes in.’
‘Yes, we’ve bought a large tract of land to the east of the town of Santos where we intend to build investment properties.’ He opened the brochure with a flourish and showed her the neat properties. He omitted to tell her the land was useless swamp and the small print near the bottom of page six said she was buying land only.
‘The properties will be rented to provide funds to pay you a monthly income, Rubie.’
‘Oh, that’s good, Jonas, my husband’s final years in the care home took almost all our savings.’
‘That’s why I proposed this scheme, Rubie. Our investors provide the capital to build and the Brazilian Government guarantee the rents, we can pay one per cent per month on your investment. In your case, three hundred thousand will pay you three thousand pounds per month after the first year, of course.’ He produced some impressive looking documents. ‘This is the statement of guarantee for the rents from the Brazilian government and this is the English translation.’ He laid them before her with the air of a man presenting a diamond necklace. ‘These and your deeds of ownership will be sent to you should you decide to take advantage of this opportunity, Rubie.’
Rubie’s eyes opened a little wider and she reached for the lengthy document her fingers caressing them then a hesitant smile flickered across her face. ‘But can I withdraw part of my money in the future, Jonas? I have twin grandsons, orphans now since my poor son died. I want to put them through university, you see. I’ll need about sixty thousand pounds in three years time.’
Flint oozed reassurance ‘of course, Rubie, you may sell all or part of your investment either privately or to us. We guarantee to repurchase at the market price.’
‘Oh, that’s marvellous, Jonas.’ A tear formed in the corner of her eye ‘I may appear a prosperous widow, but this money is the very last of my savings.’
Flint’s mouth made a sympathetic moué, ‘then it’s lucky you found us, Rubie, this is the last sub-tract to be sold. You’re only just in time.’
‘Oh’ Rubies eyebrows shot up ‘Oh, do I have to make my mind up right away, Jonas?’
‘Gracious me, no, Rubie. Please take all the time you require. However, I do have other appointments today and once this opportunity is gone it’s gone forever, I’m afraid.’
Rubie hesitated, wringing her hands, indecision writ large on her face ‘you know, Jonas, my husband used to say “never rush into things, always do business in a business-like manner.” ‘
‘Sound advice, Rubie.’
‘Do you have a copy of your company’s accounts I could see, Jonas?’
‘I’m afraid the company accounts are held in Brazil, Rubie, and written in Portuguese.’
‘Surely you have a bank account in this country, Jonas? Perhaps you could show me the balance? One hears so many dreadful tales these days and this investment is crucial for the future of my dear grandsons and me.’
Flint smiled obsequiously whilst inwardly cursing her for an obstinate old goat, ‘but of course, Rubie.’ His fingers rattled the computer keys then he turned the screen to face her. There you are, but it’s only the local operating funds I’m afraid.’
Rubie peered over her rims ‘one million seven hundred and… oh, I’m so sorry I doubted you, Jonas, but it is so vital to me.’ She stood up suddenly and reached for his arm ‘come along, Jonas, I always walk before making important decisions.’ He quickly closed the laptop and followed her to the front door.
They strolled across The Green to the windmill. ‘Such a beautiful old mill, Jonas. It has quite a chequered history since it was built circa 1805. It burnt out in 1919 then the owner, Squire, John Clifton of Lytham Hall, gave it to the town. Since then it’s been a café, a storeroom and even an electricity sub-station. It was an eyesore before the council rescued it. Now we have a lovely museum along with the old lifeboat station there. Quite the tourist attractions these days.’
Flint forced a smile; the longer this took the less likely she was to take the bait. He was impatient to conclude his nefarious business and be gone. ‘So interesting to learn the history of the place, Rubie’ he simpered ‘no wonder you love living here, but about the investment…’
‘Oh, my apologies, Jonas, I do prattle on, let’s go back at once and do the paperwork. My mind is quite made up.’
Papers signed, Flint required payment. ‘I’ll give you our bank details Rubie so that you can transfer the funds now.’ He spun the laptop towards her.
Rubie recoiled, horrified ‘goodness me, Jonas, I don’t use those infernal computer things. I’ll write you a cheque, my dear.’ She dived into her handbag.
Flint felt alarmed until he saw her cheque book. ‘Ah, you bank with Coutts, the Queen’s bankers.’ He perked up instantly knowing it took a minimum of half a million to open an account with Coutts. He still had time to make the bank and special-clear the cheque. The cash would be his by tomorrow. Flint quickly concluded his sting and departed, his greedy heart rejoicing.
Fifty-five-year-old Elsa Tweedy sat in the conservatory of the Lakeside Hotel in Ambleside. ‘Ah, there you are Aunt Elsa, that was so exciting.’
The two women embraced affectionately ‘Success was due in no small measure to you, Louise, thanks to your expertise as a make-up artist. That blue rinse wig, the wire-rimmed spectacles, and that god-awful twin set.’ She laughed joyfully ‘I really did look like a doddery old biddy. You did really well.’
‘Oh, but my bit was easy aunt. When you left, I came downstairs, retrieved the hidden camera and got his bank details and password. I simply transferred all his ill-gotten gains into your Swiss numbered account.’
They laughed again, then Louise became serious ‘Well, you certainly got my mother’s money back and a nice bonus for yourself.’
‘For us, dear Louise, for us.’
‘So, how did you acquire access to that beautiful house and a Coutts chequebook?’
‘I answered an advertisement for a house sitter, my dear. As for the cheque book?’ she blushed ‘a forgery, I’m afraid. I have friends in extremely low places. By the way, did you like the name I chose?’
‘Rubie Triton? Yes, an anagram of retribution, you and your puzzles.’ She grinned ‘I wonder if Flint will work it out?’
‘I do hope so.’
‘But your numbered Swiss account, Elsa, that’s real and no one in the family even suspected you had one.’
Elsa winked and tapped the side of her nose ‘some things are best left a secret, dear niece. Now, shall we order lunch?’