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shill

a fake, dishonest person

TRANSLATION

shill = Lockvogel, Anreißer —— to shill = Ware anpreisen [um Kunden anzulocken]

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“Once criticised privately and in hushed tones, Gerhard Schröder, a former chancellor who has become a SHILL for Russian energy, was denounced publicly—including by former allies in his own party.”

Charlemagne - The Economist (5th March 2022)

“The SHILL is the easiest to understand. He, and it almost always is he, is paid by vested interests to emit clouds of confusion about the science or economics of climate action. This uncertainty creates a smokescreen behind which polluters can lobby against measures that cut their profits.”

Damian Carrington — The Guardian (30th July 2020)

Did you
know?

shill
noun

- an accomplice of a confidence trickster or swindler who poses as a genuine customer to entice or encourage others

Oxford Languages


WORD ORIGIN

In the early 1900s, the noun “shill” referred to a type of con artist, specifically one who aided others in their efforts to part people from their money. For example, a shill might be paid to fake a big win at a casino to make a game look easily winnable.

It may be an abbreviation of "shillaber”, a carnival worker who pretended to be a member of the audience in an attempt to elicit interest in an attraction.


THE MAN WHO SOLD THE EIFFEL TOWER

In 1925, Victor Lustig came across a newspaper article about the costly maintenance of the Eiffel Tower, which inspired a new con. The article mentioned that public opinion might shift towards removing the monument due to its disrepair. Seizing this opportunity, Lustig prepared an elaborate scam, hiring a forger to create fake government stationery.

Lustig invited a small group of scrap metal dealers to a secretive meeting at an upscale hotel, posing as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. He claimed the French government wanted to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap to save on upkeep costs, but due to potential public outcry, the deal had to remain confidential. He convinced the dealers they were chosen for their reputations as "honest businessmen."

Lustig identified André Poisson as his chosen victim, an insecure man eager to climb the business ranks. In a private meeting, Lustig portrayed himself as a corrupt official needing extra money, convincing Poisson to pay a large bribe to secure the Eiffel Tower deal. After receiving the bribe and the payment for the "sale" (about 70,000 francs), Lustig fled to Austria and later to the U.S. He was arrested and imprisoned on other criminal charges in 1935. On 9th March 1947, Lustig contracted pneumonia and died two days later at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. On his death certificate his occupation was listed as "apprentice salesman".


VICTOR LUSTIG’S 7 COMMANDMENTS

1. Never be untidy.

2. Be a patient listener.

3. Never boast – just let your importance be quietly obvious.

4. Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.

5. Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.

6. Never pry into a person's personal circumstances (they'll tell you all eventually).

7. Never get drunk.


SYNONYMS

accomplice, apologist, bait, bird dog, canary, cat's paw, charlatan, colluder, con artist, conspirator, decoy, dupe, fink, front (man), hireling, hoodwinker, huckster, imposter, lackey, lure, mouthpiece, phony, plant, pretender, proxy, puppet, scam artist, scheissmeister, sham, SHILL, snake oil salesman, stoolie, trickster



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