Con games
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This article is written by Chidige Sai Varnitha.

Abstract

In this project, we are going to discuss the provisions under IPC which can be said as con games. Five important provisions under IPC that we generally say as con games are Section 420- Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property; Section 415- Cheating; Section 28- Counterfeit; Section 425- Mischief; Section 463- Forgery; Section 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating. 

We shall firstly discuss Section 420 as a con game. Generally, In India “420” is a term used in India to describe a con artist or a confidence trickster. The word “420” is taken from the Indian Penal Code’s Section 420. A confidence trickster is referred to as by using this section in India. We shall analyze how section 420 can be said as a con game. Next, we shall discuss Cheating (section 415) as a con game. By referring the definition and essential ingredients under Section 415, we can say that it is a con game. In this project, we shall analyze its definition and ingredients to know for why it is a con game. Further, we shall understand about Counterfeit (Section 28) as a Con Game. We can say Counterfeit as a Con game by looking into its ingredients and by referring to how con man uses counterfeit. To get into details, it is pertinent to refer to this project. Next, we shall analyze how mischief under Section 425, Forgery under section 463 and Forgery for the purpose of cheating under section 468 can be said as Con games. We are going to look into the entire context by referring case laws.

Introduction

Con Games: The “confidence trick” or “confidence game” is another term for the con game. A confidence trick or con game’s attacker is generally referred to as a confidence (or “con”) man, con-artist, or confidence trickster. In a con game, a con man deceives others in order to gain their money, property, or other valuables. A confidence trick is an attempt to deceive someone or a group of people after acquiring their trust. Simply put, it’s a game of deception and trust. Deception and trust are common and basic elements in a con game. 

  • It was said by Officer Ronald J. Heintzman, Transit District Police, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon Portland that “the law enforcement officials’ initial challenge in combating the con artists is to learn and develop a thorough understanding of their activities.” 
  • The con men employ different manipulative techniques and strategies to “throw off” possible victims and viewers who feel they know what’s going on and can react easily to any occasion or scenario of smooth talk and swift action. The majority of people have a specific crime that they feel is the “worst.” For some people, it’s murder; for other persons, it’s drug sales. Con games on the other hand, are something more people are talking with. Con games are generally nonviolent and largely unfamiliar to the general population, so it might sound unusual to have them on a “worst crime” list. It is, though, an offence that rates among the most callous.

CON Games and IPC

There are some provisions under IPC which can be said as Con Games. These provisions include:

  • Section 420- Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property
  • Section 415- Cheating
  • Section 28- Counterfeit
  • Section 425- Mischief
  • Section 463- Forgery, 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating

Section 420 of IPC as a Con Game

Section 420: Section 420 of Indian Penal Code talks about Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property which further states that “Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

In simpler terms, cheating is a punishable act in India, according to the Indian Penal Code. It is performed in order to benefit or acquire an advantage over another person through manipulation. The one who deceives someone is well aware that he or she is putting the other person in an adverse position. Cheating is made a criminal act under Section 420 of the IPC. 

In the context of con game: By reading these lines, we can note that the provision of section 420 is the same as that of a con game where in both the cases, cheating is done by deceiving that person to gain profit or an advantage from that person.

A “420” is a term used in India to describe a con artist or a confidence trickster. The word “420” is taken from the Indian Penal Code’s Section 420. A confidence trickster is referred to as by using this section in India.

Hilarious situation in this context- an example to understand concept better

In 1955, the Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha parliamentarians reached an extraordinary unanimous agreement to raise their salaries by Rs.1. Why did they make a silly decision, all of a sudden? The explanation for this is that, at that time, a Member of Parliament’s salary was Rs. 420 a month. The word 420 is used in India to describe deceptive and suspicious characters, as well as confidence tricksters. Its roots can be traced back to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises stealing and dishonestly inducing the delivery of property. This imposes stiff fines, including a seven-year prison sentence. Chachi 420& Shri 420, the names of two famous Hindi films, are direct references to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code.

In the case of M. Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs. the State of Bombay [1], the accused was in Karachi who was doing his business. The complainant was in Goa on business.  In 1951, rice was in short supply to Goa. The accused was contacted by the claimant for the supply of 2,000 tons of rice, which was decided upon by the accused on the stipulation that 50% of the value be charged in advance, prior to shipment, and the rest be paid after the shipping records were obtained. Correspondingly, the complainant paid the accused Rs. 81,000/- (on July 23, 1951), Rs. 2,30,000/- (on August 28, 1951), and Rs. 2,36,900/- (on August 29, 1951) through his representative. The accused received money but he did not provide them the rice. The complainant lodged a criminal case against the accused. Accused person was found guilty under Section 420 by the judiciary. The court noted that all of the ingredients required for assessing cheating offences under Section 420 were present.  In this case, the accused of course acted as a con man by cheating the complainant dishonestly. 

Cheating (Section 415) as a Con Game

Section 415: Cheating is defined under Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code as “whoever fraudulently or dishonestly deceives a person in order to induce that person to deliver a property to any person or to consent to retain any property.”

Whenever a person dishonestly, fraudulently or intentionally influences another person to do/ omit to do something that he wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t been tricked, and the said act harms that person’s reputation or assets, the person who induced the other person is a cheat.

In the context of con game: In the context of con game, we can say that- Whenever a person dishonestly, fraudulently or intentionally influences victim to do/ omit to do something that he wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t been tricked, and the said act harms the victim’s assets, then the person who induced the other person is a con man.

  • There are two main elements that make up the crime of cheating: Deception and Inducement
  1. Deception is one of the most important elements of the crime of cheating. By using any expressions or actions, deceiving involves persuading others to accept what is fake to be true or making the other person to disbelieve what is true to be false. Considering in the context of a con game, deception is one of the most important elements in a con game. Con man, by using any expressions or actions, deceives and persuades others to accept what is fake to be true or a con man make other person to disbelieve what is true to be false.
  2. Inducement happens when one person practices deceitful means to force another person to commit to something that is detrimental to that person. It normally happens when two people enter into a deal where one of them uses inducement fraudulently to achieve an advantage over the other. Considering in the context of con game, inducement is one of the essential element in a con game where con man induces a person by practicing deceitful means to force that person to commit to something that is detrimental to that person. 
  • If we consider the entire context, from the definition of cheat, it is evident that cheat is a con man in the context of con game. Even in a con game, fraudulent and dishonest means are used to deceive a person. In the above, it was mentioned that Deception and Inducement are essential elements of cheating under section 415. After referring to these two elements it is also becoming evident that these elements are important ingredients to constitute the offence under con game. 

In Med Chi Chemicals& Pharma Ltd. vs. Biological E Ltd. [2], it was held that Mens rea is an important required ingredient regarding the offence of cheating. In Ramji Lahamsi vs. Harshadrai[3], it was stated that for an offence under section 415, it needs that there should be cause/ likely to cause damage or harm to the body, mind, reputation or property of the victim. The terms mentioned herein demonstrate that section 415 refers to causation of something because of an act or due to commission of an omission. 

Even in the case of Con Game, Mens Rea is an essential element and con man must have caused or likely to cause damage or harm to the property of the victim.

Counterfeit (Section 28) as a Con Game

Section 28: Section 28 in the Indian Penal Code talks about “Counterfeit” which states that “A person is said to counterfeit who causes one thing to resemble another thing, intending by means of that resemblance to practise deception, or knowing it to be likely that deception will thereby be practised.”

In the context of con game: Most of the Con men are Counterfeit who deceives people. Con man generally plays a trick where they cause one thing to resemble another thing to practice deception. So, we can say con man as counterfeit

Counterfeit includes the following ingredients: Making one thing to imitate another enough to cause deception, for the purpose to practice deception, resemblance is being used, understanding that the deception would most likely be used as a result. After reading essential ingredients under Counterfeit, we can get to know that the main element under Counterfeit is deception which is the same as in the case of Con Game. 

Example to understand how a con man uses counterfeit in a con game

Here we can see how a con man uses counterfeit in a con game. This was the case in America. Of course, this is the case in most of the countries. A con artist gives you a counterfeit check to pay for products or services, probably something you’ve listed for sale, but the check’s value is higher than the selling price. The con artist demands that you cash the check, hold your asking price, and wire the remainder of the overpayment to the con artist through Western Union or MoneyGram. It is duty upon banks to make deposits accessible within 48 hours, but clearing a check will take weeks. When a counterfeit check bounces, the funds are normally taken out of your account. The checks for which you deposit are ultimately your responsibility. You are obligated to pay money back to the bank after you acknowledge the check & deposit it. Most adults in the United States have got a counterfeit check, and some have even deposited the checks and sent money to the con artists. As a result, the con is almost as profitable.

Con artists are now using laser-printed counterfeit cheques with the appropriate bank account numbers & payer records. This deception is also portrayed in the movie “The Spanish Prisoner”.

In Kashi Prasad vs. State of Uttar Pradesh[4], it was laid down that the accused should have had the fraudulent motive at the time he acquired the counterfeit coins in order to be found guilty under these provisions. Thus, even though a person owns a coin and has information that the coin is counterfeit at the time of possession but has no intention of defrauding someone, he cannot be prosecuted. For instance, if an individual has a coin and then learns that it is a counterfeit, he can hold the coin and pass it on to another individual when the time comes. Such possession is not illegal since he had no intention of defrauding when he came into touch with the counterfeit coin. As a consequence, subsequent possession is not an offence until it is provided with the necessary mens rea.

Mischief (Section 425) as a Con Game

Section 425: Section 425 of Indian Penal Code talks about Mischief which states that “Whoever with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits mischief.”

In simpler language, a mischief happens when a person plans to commit an act or knows that his or her act may obstruct another person from enjoying the gain of their property in any manner. This act, however, may be aimed towards the general population or a specific individual.

In the context of con game: In the circumstance of con game, mischief happens in a con game when con man plans to commit an act or knows that his or her act may obstruct the victim from enjoying the gain of their property in any manner. So, mischief can be said as one of the con games.

  • Essential elements of mischief are: Intention/ knowledge of the act; the act that causes the property or situation to be lost, harmed, or changed; the alteration must decrease the value or use of the property. By reading essential elements, we can understand that mischief as well is a con game where there is intention to destruct/ create damage in the property or good resulting in the diminishing of value of that property or good. 

In the case of Krishna Gopal Singh And Ors. vs. the State Of U.P.[5], it was stated that, if the accused did not perform an offence with the intent to inflict wrongful harm or injury to another person or the general public, the crime of mischief would not be committed. It also means that actions committed under extreme pressure and without the accused’s consent don’t really fall under the definition of mischief.

We can apply this interpretation of court in the context of con games. Even in con games, con man will be having intent to cause wrongful loss or damage to any person or the public at large. So, we can say mischief as a con game.

Forgery (Section 463 and Section 468) as a Con Game

Section 463: According to Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code, “whoever makes any false document or electronic record or part of a document or electronic record with intent to cause damage or injury, to the public or to any person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed, commits forgery.”

Forgery for purpose of Cheating- Section 468

Although Section 463 of the IPC covers forgery, this section will focus on a particular form of forgery: “forgery for the purpose of cheating”, which is the offender’s primary goal. 
Section 468: Section 468 of Indian Penal Code states that “Whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged shall be used for the purpose of cheating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

As a consequence, forgery may be described as a means to an end, with the end being a fabrication of an event or plan to trick others into believing a lie/ inaccuracy.

In the context of con game: In the context of con game, con man by playing forgery plans tricks others into believing a lie/ inaccuracy. 

False making, material alteration, ability to defraud & intent to defraud are all necessary ingredients of forgery. But these all are limited to document.

In con games, con men deceive either by using any document or without using it. But in forgery, the person must have taken paper and ink and created a false document from scratch.  Forgery is limited to documents. 

In State of Orissa v. Rabindra Nath Sahu[6], it has been observed that section 468 does not need the accused to have performed an offence under forgery.  For this section, the material reality is that the accused performed forgery with the intention of using the forged document to cheat others. In case, the accused has used the forged document for the intention of cheating, he will be found liable under section 468 as well as for the crime of cheating. By this we can understand that a con man becomes liable under section 468 of IPC, if he plays a con game to cheat by using forgery. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, con game is an attempt to deceive someone or a group of people after acquiring their trust. Con game’s attacker is generally referred to as a confidence (con) man, con-artist, or confidence trickster. Some of the important provisions under IPC which can be said as con games are Section 420- Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, Section 415- Cheating, Section 28- Counterfeit, Section 425- Mischief, Section 463- Forgery and 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating. Section 420 can be said as a Con Game directly where in India, a “420” is a term used to describe a con artist or a confidence trickster. Section 415 of IPC can be said as a con game when we compare its essential ingredients with a con game. Also, section 28 of IPC can be said as a con game when we compare its essential ingredients with a con game. After reading about a case in America where a con man uses counterfeit in a con game, it is evident directly that counterfeit is a con game. After discussing the essential ingredients under Section 425, 463 and 468, we can say that they are con games.

Suggestions 

Con artists are regarded as the most deceitful, harmful, and disruptive members of society since they undermine the fundamental values of social order: honesty and trust. My recommendation is for law enforcement officers. In effort to fight the con artists, they must first learn & develop a comprehensive understanding of their actions. For police to design and carry out a feasible enforcement programme, they must have a basic understanding of the con game mechanisms. The contemporary con man can strike at any time, be it in the core of a big urban city or at a bus/ train station, in a small country town. Since con artists may appear out of nowhere, law enforcement officials must act quickly once their actions have been discovered.

To actually deal with and prosecute the culprits; police & prosecutors must organise their plans. Prosecutors and courts may need to be educated on the con games and schemes because smaller or rural cities are most likely exposed to such activities. Existing and possibly out-of-date local ordinances may need to be revised in order to withstand constitutional or legal challenges. It may even be necessary to propose new ordinances, as state and other laws may be too ambiguous in dealing with some or all aspects of the con men activities.

References

  • AIR 1957 SC 857
  • (2000) 3 SCC 269
  • AIR 1960 Bom 268
  • AIR 1950 ALL 732
  • AIR 2000 SC 3616
  • (2002) CrLJ 2327 (Ori)

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