December 1, 2015

Are financial scammers really turning to Neil Strauss’ The Game for guidance?


The_Game_-_Penetrating_the_Secret_Society_of_Pickup_ArtistsIn what is either a totally expected turn of events or the most left-field marketing campaign ever mounted, Neil Strauss’ infamous pickup-artist-Bible The Game has been linked to a pair of scam artists who reportedly used it as a guide to conning a London woman out of 1.6 million pounds.

Lucy Crossley reported for the Daily Mail:

The woman in her 40s from Hillingdon, north west London, thought she was in an online relationship with a divorcee father-of-one called Christian Anderson.

But little did she know she was actually being tricked by a gang of fraudsters including Ife Ojo, 31, and Olusegun Agbaje, 43, who duped her into ‘loaning’ them a staggering £1.6 million, telling her the money was needed to free up inheritance so they could start a new life together.

…Ojo and Agbaje were arrested at Agbaje’s home in Hornchurch, Essex. When police searched Nigerian student Ojo’s home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, they found a copy of Neil Strauss’s bestselling dating manual The Game with them, which reveals the the skills and techniques used by ‘pick up gurus’ to seduce women. They also used a book of love poems called For You, My Soul Mate: Loving Messages To Share With A Very Special Person, by Douglas Pagels to help them seduce the unsuspecting woman.

The details of the con are fairly standard—target convinces mark to provide larger and larger amounts of money based on an empty promise of greater riches, or in this case, true love. It’s important to note, however, that the article does not explicitly link the details of the con with content found in The Game. Rather, the article simply states that the book was found in Ojo’s residence, which is circumstantial at best. (I, for example, own a print copy of The Poor Man’s James Bondbut I’m not heading into the woods to wait out TEOTWAWKI.)

Yet it’s an expected headline, especially from the Mail. Strauss’ book—one of several black-flexi-covered books whose title people tout to justify bad behavior—has sold hundreds of thousands of copies since it was published in 2005 by now-defunct HarperCollins imprint ReganBooks. This particular scam is just the latest unfortunate association for The Game, which has already gained plenty of notoriety for spawning a self-help community/toxic-masculinity-industrial complex.

That Strauss or his book bear any legal culpability for this particular scam would make for a great episode of The Good Wife. In real life, however, it’s highly unlikely. Either way, three things are certain: Self-help books are still damning evidence in the eyes of the media, The Game is still selling, and someone somewhere in the pickup artist community can definitely find a way to blame the victim.


Liam O'Brien is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.