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The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: backer

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– the person who supplies the genuine dollar bills that are shown to a prospective victim in a greengoods con-game.

The greengoods con-game entails the sale of a large quantity of counterfeit money at a steep discount from its face value. In a show of demonstrating the high quality of the counterfeit bills to a potential buyer, the swindlers actually show him real money. Once the buyer puts down his money to purchase the counterfeit bills in the belief that no one could possibly tell that they are fake, the con-men switch the case holding the real money with one that contains shredded newspaper or the like. The backer receives fifty percent of the profits, out of which he pays off the police to guarantee the gang’s protection.


  • Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of the Underworld. New York: Bonanza Books, 1961.

Note: See “Cant: The Language of the Underworld” to learn more about the background of the American Malefactor’s Dictionary.

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