Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies 12.24.21
Ep 4 | 12.24.21

Hustling the hustler and three-card Monte.



James Avery: (As Philip Banks) Geoffrey, break out Lucille. 


Dave Bittner: Hello, everyone. And welcome to a special edition of the "Hacking Humans" podcast, an occasional series we call "Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies." I'm Dave Bittner from the CyberWire. And joining me is my "Hacking Humans" co-host, Joe Carrigan from the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. Hello, Joe. 

Joe Carrigan: Hi, Dave. 

Dave Bittner: On this show, Joe and I look at clips from some of our favorite movies, clips which demonstrate some of the scams and schemes we talk about on "Hacking Humans." And joining us once again this week is Rick Howard, the CyberWire's chief security officer and chief analyst. Hello, Rick. 

Rick Howard: Hey, guys. Thanks for inviting me back. I really appreciate it. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. We've got some fun clips to share this week, so stay tuned. 

Dave Bittner: All right. We are back. And let's dig right into some of our clips here. Joe, you are going to start things off for us. Set up your clip for us. 

Joe Carrigan: So this clip comes from an episode of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." with James Avery and Will Smith, the late James Avery. And the setup of the episode is Will Smith has been absolutely screwed out of a bunch of money playing pool. And now Uncle Phil is going to take Will down to the pool hall and try to win his money back. And that's where we come in to this scene. 

Rick Howard: Which is always a good plan, OK? That's a fantastic plan. 


Dave Bittner: All right. From "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Here we go. 

Joe Carrigan: So there's James Avery. He's holding the cue completely incorrectly. He's got his hand - his right hand - or left hand his palm up. 


James Avery: (As Phil Banks) Whoops. 


James Avery: (As Phil Banks) That was just a practice shot. 


J D Hall: (As Charlie Mack) Looks like it's my turn. 

Joe Carrigan: And Geoffrey is there, as well, the - keep playing. Phil's still playing with his hand up, still botching the shots. 

Dave Bittner: Doing terribly. 

Joe Carrigan: Doing terribly. 


J D Hall: (As Charlie Mack) Now you owe me $400. 

Joe Carrigan: The game is up, and the shark is - you owe me... 


Will Smith: (As Will Smith) Can you just pay them, and let's go? 

James Avery: (As Phil Banks) No, no, no. I think I'm getting a lot better. Don't you? 


Unidentified Actor #1: (As character) Oh, yeah. Much better. 

Unidentified Actor #2: (As character) That's not the way I see it. He still stink. 


Joseph Marcell: (As Geoffrey Butler) I wouldn't talk. 

Joe Carrigan: Of course, Geoffrey gets his dig in. Geoffrey always has a snide comment loaded in the chamber. 


James Avery: (As Phil Banks) Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let's play another game. I mean, I want another chance. Let's play another game. 

Will Smith: (As Will Smith) Uncle Phil. 

J D Hall: (As Charlie Mack) I don't know. You know, my time is very valuable. I couldn't possibly play another game without upping the ante. 

James Avery: (As Phil Banks) How much? 

J D Hall: (As Charlie Mack) Let's say a nice, round figure, like hundred dollars a ball? 

James Avery: (As Phil Banks) A hundred dollars a ball? 

Joe Carrigan: Will Smith is telling him, no, no, no, no. Don't do this. 


James Avery: (As Phil Banks) OK. Hundred dollars a ball. 

J D Hall: (As Charlie Mack, laughter) You got yourself a game. 

James Avery: (As Phil Banks, laughter) Geoffrey, break out Lucille. 


Joe Carrigan: Now that the bet is made... 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Joe Carrigan: ...Phil asks his butler for the - for Lucille, which is a - what he calls his cue. And Geoffrey pulls a cue out of his hand. Now Phil's hand is on the table. His left hand is on the table appropriately, and he's sinking balls left and right. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Joe Carrigan: So now the pool shark realizes he's been hustled for $100 a ball. And it goes on in typical '90s sitcom fashion for, you know, the next 5 minutes or so. 

Dave Bittner: It's a musical montage. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 


Joe Carrigan: Typical of the era. 


Joe Carrigan: And the camera cuts are such that you can tell that James Avery is not making the shots, but now here he is eating a Danish or something with one hand making... 

Rick Howard: You didn't have to tell me that. I totally believed that he was making those shots. 


Dave Bittner: Oh, my. 

Rick Howard: So the moral of the story here is it's OK to hustle other people. Is that the moral? 

Joe Carrigan: Well, it's OK to hustle hustlers. 

Rick Howard: Ah, I see. 

Joe Carrigan: And here, Phil is collecting the $900. 


James Avery: (As Phil Banks) ...Nine hundred dollars. 

Unidentified Actor #2: (As character) And 10... 

Joe Carrigan: And that's the end of it. 

Dave Bittner: All right. 

Joe Carrigan: I chose this because a buddy of mine and I were in college, and we had a friend over a young lady who lived in the area. And she said, what do you guys do around here for fun at college? We went to school in a fairly rural area - wasn't a lot to do. We came up with a bunch of different ideas. And then finally somebody said, well, down at the Lane Center, they have pool tables. And this young lady said, wow, I've seen that on TV. I think I'd like to try that. 

Rick Howard: Oh, yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: So we go down to the Lane Center, right? And she's like, how do you play this game? How do you - what do you do? How do you hold this cue? And my roommate's like, oh, it's - here. You put one hand down on the table, like, and then you take this. And she goes, like this? Is this how you do this? Right? And about - yeah, we play one game of pool, and we're about to play the other game of pool. And she goes, this is a fun game. And she looks at me and my roommate, and she goes, do you guys play this game for money? 


Joe Carrigan: And I look her dead in the eyes, and I go, not with you, I don't. 


Joe Carrigan: And my roommate doesn't get it. He goes, oh, we couldn't take your money. I said, oh, go ahead. Take her money. Take her money. Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Did your roommate go in to try to play against her? 

Joe Carrigan: Well, she realized the jig was up. 

Dave Bittner: OK. 

Joe Carrigan: And then she just cleared the table off. 

Dave Bittner: So she was trying to hustle you guys. 

Joe Carrigan: Oh, she was - yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: She was trying to hustle us. I mean... 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Joe Carrigan: Nothing has changed because she still tries to hustle me all the time 'cause I married that woman. 

Dave Bittner: Oh. There you go. 

Rick Howard: And there we go. 

Dave Bittner: There you go. See? So... 

Joe Carrigan: I love her so much. 

Dave Bittner: It all worked out in the end. 

Joe Carrigan: And this is one of the reasons. It's a great story. 

Dave Bittner: So you had her number, but from that point on, she had your number. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter). 

Rick Howard: It all makes sense why you're on the "Hacking Humans" podcast, Joe, all right? 

Joe Carrigan: That's right. 

Dave Bittner: That's right. 

Rick Howard: It just totally makes sense. 

Dave Bittner: That's right. That's right. Now, I like this clip, you know, because it sort of - it hustles the hustler, right? 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: So you have the person who you think is the innocent person getting scammed. But, no, they turn the tables, and they're able to win the money back in the end - so always funny. 

Rick Howard: This is a TV plot point that's been on so many different shows that any time someone professes to don't know what they're doing, you know, my radar goes up. My spidey senses go... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: ...Way up, right? So... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: Right, right. No, that's a great point. Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: It's like when somebody says, I'm a terrible poker player. You go, sure. Yeah. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, yeah. Right. That's right. 

Joe Carrigan: I think I've even seen a show where somebody says, I'm a terrible poker player, and the other person goes, me, too, with a big smile on their face. 


Dave Bittner: Yeah. It's funny. You know, I think I have friends who have security clearances, which is pretty common around here. And so... 

Joe Carrigan: Yup. 

Dave Bittner: Part of having a security clearance is you have to go in sometimes and get a polygraph done, you know? And I've never had it done, but I always thought - I've heard that one of the things they say to you after they get hooked up and they ask you a bunch of test questions - you know, like, they'll say to you, well, the good news is you're a terrible liar. And my response would be, right back at you. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: So are you. 


Dave Bittner: That'll never come because no one's ever going to trust me with any secrets - rightfully so. Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: (Laughter). 

Dave Bittner: All right, well, good clip. Well, let's move on to our second one of the show. And, Rick, that is your clip this week. What do you have for us? 

Rick Howard: Yeah. My clip this week is from the 1998 movie "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." We were talking. You guys have seen this before. 

Joe Carrigan: I love this movie. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: Yes. 

Dave Bittner: I'm not familiar with it. So set it up for us. 

Rick Howard: So it's written and directed by Guy Ritchie, probably most famous for the "Sherlock Holmes" franchise, the movie with Robert Downey Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes and not the Benedict Cumberbatch TV show. He also directed a show that nobody liked that I loved called "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." You should absolutely check that out. I love that one. But this story revolves around four longtime friends in a - and they're all small-time criminals in London, or as the British like to call them, Jack the Lads. I just found that out this morning, OK? I wish you guys would call me that, you know, going forward, right? 

Joe Carrigan: Kind of has a different meaning here in America. 

Rick Howard: Yeah, I think it does. Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: (Laughter). 

Rick Howard: Anyway, they get caught up in a rigged card game and end up owing 500,000 pounds to an organized crime boss named Harry. You know, and hilarity ensues. But... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: Yeah, you know, because that's a fun-time story. 

Joe Carrigan: Yeah. Right. 

Rick Howard: In this clip, we're seeing the first scenes in the movie as the opening credits roll. We have one of the four guys, Bacon, played by Jason Statham, and he's probably most famous for the "Fast and the Furious" film franchise. And he's running this scam in a London back alley where he's trying to sell stolen merchandise to a group of passerbys (ph) who have just stopped to look at his table. And about halfway through this clip, one of his pals, Eddie - he comes up to help the scam. So see if you guys can pick that out when it happens. Nick Moran is Eddie, probably most famous here in America for playing one of Voldemort's henchmen in the "Harry Potter" series. So let's run the clip. 

Dave Bittner: All right. 


Jason Statham: (As Bacon) Sort the buyers from the spyers (ph), the needy from the greedy and those who trust me from the ones who don't... 

Rick Howard: That's Jason Statham. 


Jason Statham: (As Bacon) ...Because if you can't see value here today, you're not up here shopping. You're up here shoplifting. You see these goods - never seen daylight, moonlight, Israelite, Fanny by the gaslight. Take a bag. Come on. Take a bag. I took a bag home last night - cost me a lot more than 10 pound. I can tell you. Anyone like jewelry? Look at that one that there - handmade in Italy, hand-stolen in Stepney. It's as long as my arm. I wish it was as long as something else. Don't think because these boxes are sealed up they're empty. The only man who sells empty boxes is the undertaker. And by the look of some of you lot here today, I'd make more money with me measuring tape. Here - one price, 10 pounds. 

Nick Moran: (As Eddie) Did you say 10 pounds? 

Jason Statham: (As Bacon) Are you deaf? 

Nick Moran: (As Eddie) That's a bargain. I'll take one. 

Jason Statham: (As Bacon) Squeeze in if you can - left leg, right leg. Your body will follow. They call it walking. You want one as well, darling? You do? That's it. They're waking up. Treat the wife. Treat somebody else's wife. It's a lot more fun if you don't get caught. Hold on. You want one as well? OK, darling. Show me a bit of life, then. It's no good standing out there like 1 o'clock half-struck. Buy them. You better buy them. These are not stolen. They just haven't been paid for, and we can't get them again. They've changed the bloody locks. Here - one for you. It's no good... 

Rick Howard: We can cut it off there. That's a good part, right? So what'd you think - not necessarily a con because he's clearly obviously selling stolen merchandise. But what'd you think? 

Joe Carrigan: Right, and being open about it. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: It's interesting. He starts off with the patter. He's got the whole thing to get people interested and... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: ...Get them looking at it. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: But one of the things that we've talked about - actually, I think about our interview or your interview, Dave, with Penn Jillette, where he's talking about the three-card monte guys. And it looks like there's just one guy there. And there's not just one guy there. There's multiple guys there. And in this case, when Jason Statham is trying to sell, the first guy to buy from him... 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: ...Is one of his buddies. And he goes, I'll take one. And that gets the ball rolling. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, that... 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: ...Opens the floodgates, right? 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. That's the... 

Dave Bittner: Nobody wants to be the first... 

Rick Howard: ...Voldemort guy. 

Dave Bittner: Nobody wants to be the first guy, right? 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. It's interesting. Yeah, I noticed the same thing. It was that well-rehearsed patter... 

Rick Howard: (Laughter). 

Dave Bittner: ...That this guy has the gift of the gab, and that's what draws people in. And by charming them, he lowers their defenses, I think. 

Rick Howard: Yeah, he's a good-looking guy, and he's funny, right? And he's making semi-ribald jokes a little bit, so that brings people in, you know. So it gets people interested. But still, like you said, Joe, nobody's buying until his buddy moves forward and says, hey, give me that. That sounds like a good deal. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. 

Rick Howard: Did you notice that, you know, the way Statham primes the pump - again, a little nudge - was he hands out little plastic bags? It probably wasn't clear from the audio clip. But he's handing little plastic bags so - you know, the takeaway bag from, like, a grocery store. 

Dave Bittner: Ah. 

Rick Howard: And he gives them to everybody just to kind of nudge them and say, you guys should be buying stuff from us. 

Dave Bittner: Right. Right. Listen, I've given you something for free already... 

Rick Howard: Yeah (laughter). 

Dave Bittner: ...This bag. You accepted this bag from me, so you're obligated to... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: ...Follow through. And it's only 10 pounds. 

Rick Howard: That's right. That's right (laughter). 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. No, it's very clever. Clearly, this guy knows what he's doing. I'm curious, have either of you ever come across one of these, you know, hey, I got a couple of things in the trunk of my car, would you - are you interested in one, kind of scam? 

Joe Carrigan: When I was young, in New York City, these guys were just about everywhere. And I went to New York City a couple of times in my youth. And, you know, they just had, essentially, stolen goods out on a blanket. And so they could - if anybody came by, they could quickly grab the blanket and go. And they were just selling it dirt cheap. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. How about you, Rick? 

Rick Howard: I had an experience in my younger, naive days. I was on a bike trail just riding, and there was a car parked right next to the bike trail, and the trunk was open. And it had, I don't know, five or six bikes in it, and the guy was trying to sell the bikes. And I'm looking at them, going, hey, I could - you know, that's a nice bike. It wasn't until much later that I realized they were all stolen. 


Joe Carrigan: Right. You're lucky you got to ride away on your bike. 


Rick Howard: Yeah. That's what I was thinking. 


Dave Bittner: While you're looking at his bikes, there's somebody behind you stealing yours. 

Rick Howard: Yeah, exactly. Right. 


Dave Bittner: And now you need to buy a bike because how else are you going to get home? 


Rick Howard: Yeah. How much for those bikes? 


Dave Bittner: Yeah. I've never fallen for this, but my oldest son has, and... 

Rick Howard: Oh, yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, yeah. He has a... 

Rick Howard: That's a lesson learned. That's a life lesson, OK? That's a... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: ...Life lesson. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. I guess I was just - I mean, I've had people approach me on the street with this sort of thing, but I guess I'm too - I was always too scared that I was going to be led down some dark alley... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: ...And have somebody knock me over the head and take all my stuff. 

Joe Carrigan: Yep. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: So I never followed through with it. But, I don't know. 

Joe Carrigan: Are you going to tell what happened to your son? 

Dave Bittner: Well, my son got approached by someone to buy a projector, you know, like a home theater projector. And my son (laughter) - my son bought it (laughter). And to this day, he's using that projector, so... 

Joe Carrigan: OK. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter) I think it's a piece of crap probably, but... 

Rick Howard: So here's my question. Was he in the market for a projector and then that opportunity just presented itself? Or was it just, oh, this is too much of a good deal to pass on? 

Dave Bittner: I don't know, Rick. 

Rick Howard: (Laughter). 

Dave Bittner: And you know how it is with kids. You're like, you know, where have I failed as a parent? 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 


Rick Howard: Clearly. It's a parental problem. 

Dave Bittner: My son - yeah. Because he just thinks he got a great deal. You know, he - I think he was able to conveniently deceive himself that, you know, that these - this wasn't stolen merchandise, right? 

Rick Howard: (Laughter). 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Dave Bittner: You know, because it was in his best interest to do so. 

Joe Carrigan: There was a... 

Rick Howard: It might not have been stolen. It might not have been stolen. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Oh, sure. 

Joe Carrigan: Well, I... 


Joe Carrigan: I've heard of another scam like this where they convince you that it is stolen merchandise, and that's why they're selling it for so cheap. But it's actually just garbage, right? 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: Where they pull up in a parking lot and they've got, like, speakers. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, speakers is a common one. 

Rick Howard: Yep. 

Joe Carrigan: And they say, you know, we were going to deliver these speakers to a customer. We delivered and installed them. But the guy sent us twice as many. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Joe Carrigan: You know, these are $600 speakers. You can see them. And you can look them up online and they look like $600 speakers. And I'm going to sell them to you for 100 bucks. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Joe Carrigan: And they're really $25 speakers. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. 

Rick Howard: Well, I think that's the scam in the movie clip, too. He implies that it's all stolen merchandise, but, you know... 

Joe Carrigan: Right. Exactly. 

Rick Howard: There's no proof there. 

Joe Carrigan: Probably just garbage, right? 

Rick Howard: Yeah, it's just garbage. 

Dave Bittner: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Dollar bin costume jewelry, but he... 

Rick Howard: Right. Right. 

Dave Bittner: ...Makes it sound - and he - also, in the clip, he makes the point that the boxes are sealed. 

Joe Carrigan: Right. 

Rick Howard: Yeah. 

Dave Bittner: Those people aren't checking... 

Rick Howard: No (laughter). 

Dave Bittner: ...To open the boxes to see. They're just rolling the dice. Ten pounds, OK... 

Rick Howard: Ten pounds. 

Dave Bittner: ...Not that big a loss. But if he gets, you know - what? - 20 people to buy these things, you know... 

Rick Howard: That's beer money. 

Dave Bittner: ...Not a bad... 

Rick Howard: Beer money for the night. Yeah (laughter). 

Dave Bittner: Exactly. Exactly. All right. Well, good clips all around. And thank you, gents, for bringing those to us. Of course, we would always love to hear from you. If there is a clip from film or cinema or TV that you would like us to review, you can send it to us at hackinghumans@thecyberwire.com. 

Dave Bittner: That is our show. We want to thank the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute for their participation. You can learn more at isi.jhu.edu. The "Hacking Humans" podcast is proudly produced in Maryland at the startup studios of DataTribe, where they're co-building the next generation of cybersecurity teams and technologies. Our senior producer is Jennifer Eiben. Our executive editor is Peter Kilpe. I'm Dave Bittner. 

Joe Carrigan: I'm Joe Carrigan. 

Rick Howard: And I'm Rick Howard. 

Dave Bittner: Thanks for listening.