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Max_Writer

Down Darker Trails - Grifter Scam

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Max_Writer

I'm a little bit at a loss and coming here (among other places) for help.

 

I'm planning a scenario in Devil's Gulch but one of the character's father is a con man and evil to the core.  She's visiting her sister, who has moved to Devil's Gulch but I want to include the father as well, preferably in a scam that would ruin or destroy most of the people in town.  To distract the second daughter, he has another Grifter who is going to seduce the sister and distract her with courting.

 

The problem is, I can't figure out a good scam that would rip off, injure, or even kill the residents of the town if allowed to go through.  It could or could not be connected to the mythos (could would be good).  I could also use a typical scam that might work in the period (on a town in Colorado Territory with a rail line already going through it in 1875) that I could add to.

 

Any help would be appreciated.

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Maccabeus

What about a snake oil salesman who peddles something containing an opiod or hallucinogen as well as nearly-lethal doses of mercury that prove cumulatively fatal after a short time? Initial successes enjoyed by some of the townspeople might create a rush for nearly everyone to purchase his wares, only to leave the imbibers dead after a few doses.

 

Here is a link to a Smithsonian article on ingredients in snake oil 

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/whats-in-century-old-snake-oil-medicines-mercury-and-lead-16743639/

 

NPR history of snake oil salesmen

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/08/26/215761377/a-history-of-snake-oil-salesmen

 

WikiPedia article on snake oil

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil

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MrHandy

One possibility is a fake gold discovery. He can have a bit of real gold that he claims to have "found" on otherwise worthless land nearby that he bought cheap and have it assayed to prove it. The townspeople rush to get in on it, and he sells them land as well as gold hunting paraphernalia such as shovels and pans at outrageously inflated prices. By the time they realize that there's no gold to be found, he's already left town.

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