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The mark cannot go to the authorities without revealing that he has committed tax fraud.
Many swindles involve a minor element of crime or some other misdeed.
This trick was featured in the HBO series Deadwood, when Al Swearengen and E. Farnum trick Brom Garret into believing gold is to be found on the claim Swearengen intends to sell him. The Spanish Prisoner scam – and its modern variant, the advance-fee scam or "Nigerian letter scam".
The basic premise involves enlisting the mark to aid in retrieving some stolen money from its hiding place.
For instance, the scammer may claim to have been arrested and require money to be wired for bail, and asking that the victim doesn't tell the grandchild's parents, as they would "only get upset".In Romany, this trick is called bujo ("bag") after one traditional format: the mark is told that the curse is in his money; he brings money in a bag to have the spell cast over it, and leaves with a bag of worthless paper. This scam got a new lease on life in the electronic age with the virus hoax.Fake anti-virus software falsely claims that a computer is infected with viruses, and renders the machine inoperable with bogus warnings unless blackmail is paid.The victim sometimes believes he can cheat the con artists out of their money, but anyone trying this has already fallen for the essential con by believing that the money is there to steal (see also Black money scam).Note that the classic Spanish Prisoner trick also contains an element of the romance scam (see below).