We’re all usually pretty good about keeping our guard against otherwise obvious scams and get-rich schemes. We’re street smart, after all. But once that junk comes in the human form of a well-heeled person who says all the right things, shows up in a $200,000 Bentley, and throws around money like it’s in their way, things aren’t so simple.

They hit us up with a slick story, flash some fancy things in our faces — usually to blind us from their growing number of inconsistencies, and try to convince us that they will help with something major because they really “believe in us and what we are doing.”

Maybe they’re namedropping excessively and overstating their relevance and relationships to whomever they’re talking about, or they’re lying about everything and hoping you won’t know the difference.

Bullshitters and time wastes are everywhere; here are some of our favorite ways to sift through their lies.

1. Nothing Ever Verifies Online.

If someone has done something of any note, there should be a trail of evidence online that lines up with their story. But, on the other hand, when they dodge social media for “privacy,” and you can’t find anything credible online about them, you may have a bullshitter on your hands.

Taken a step further, even when you find an article or blog post about someone, don’t automatically take that on its own as any ironclad proof.

If the person is bullshitting you, it wouldn’t exactly be above them to have convinced a content-hungry blogger to write whatever they wanted to be said about themselves.

Connector Pro Tip: Always take into account the credibility of the online source (especially if anyone can pay to be on it), how difficult it would be to tell their own story on it without anyone noticing, and how everything you’re finding on them connects over time.

Avoid being blinded by expensive things. You never know if the person owns it, is in debt up to their eyeballs, or if they’re trying to use you to pay for it.

2. They Mysteriously Shutdown “Successful” Projects and Businesses.

When you see someone who goes on about a long list of “successes” that all have mysteriously disappeared into oblivion without verifiable reasons, you can bet the farm they are either overhyping things or possibly lying about why the projects are no longer around. “Oh, I spent the last two years working on this company. It was very successful, but I just wanted to do something else, so I shut it down.”

If something were legitimately making money or worth having, they would have kept it going or sold it to someone else. If neither happened, there is likely something important missing from the story.

3. They Unfairly Identify With Other People’s Projects.

Creating something new and building a successful business from the ground up usually takes many years of a founding team’s blood, sweat, and financial tears. It takes considerably less effort for a bullshitter to embellish their involvement in anything that mattered or to randomly attach themselves to other people’s successes as a way to jumpstart their own.

If you’re only hearing their side of the story and it never seems to be verified by other people who were there at the time, might be worth asking more questions before assuming they’ve done what they claimed to.

4. They Are A Little Quick To Show Off.

A person of legitimate wealth, success, and influence is usually fully acclimated to the lifestyle and the kinds of people who surround them as a result. It’s a little like how we tend to get used to a new car after a few months. We may have been excited and telling people about it at first, but that new car smell is long gone, and we’re just driving it to get from Point A to Point B.

The opportunist needs you to be impressed by it because that’s all they’ve got going for them, and they may damn near run over your foot so that you can see them driving that luxury car.

5. Unexplained Holes In Their Timeline, Embellished Successes.

I knew a guy for about a decade who bounced from job to job while trying to start various businesses. I always respected his hustle and was legitimately rooting for him to succeed, but the jobs usually lasted about as long as his usually terrible business ideas.

Then, out of nowhere, he was bending over backward to show off how much money and (alleged) success he had. Every other day, something new didn’t align with reality. And every other week, his life story and professional biographies (that he wrote) grew even more ridiculously embellished and completely out-of-line with his actual past. He even self-published a book on Amazon (about as poorly written as it was barely read), then promoted himself everywhere as being a “best-selling author.”

To someone who had just met him, they could quickly have taken him at face value and assumed he was some business prodigy whose touch turned everything into gold. And they did. Several bloggers unknowingly validated his “alternative” account of his career.

He ultimately did successfully use a long stream of embellishments and outright lies to build (what legitimately seems to be) a very successful business, but not without faking it until he made it.

6. They Won’t Answer Questions Directly.

When someone doesn’t know what they are talking about or is simply trying to avoid the question you’re asking, they will always give vague answers and then segue on to talk about something else. If you leave a conversation with unanswered questions and never fully know what the person even just said, it’s often for a good reason.

7. They Never Talk About Their Failures.

No one in business hits a home run every time they go to bat. Some of the most important lessons that any entrepreneur will ever learn result from expensive losses, missteps, and blunders. So when someone never mentions or admits to tripping here and there, push them on it and see what they say.

8. They’ve Previously Worked Closely With Known Bullshitters. 

Birds of a feather flock together, and it takes a while to get a bullshitter’s stink off. If someone were working very closely with Shady McShadster for any length of time, it would indicate that they either have a terrible sense of judgment or were in on things with similar intent. Especially, if they don’t go to great and honest lengths to apologize for the association.

This doesn’t always mean they are not worth working with, but they are definitely on probation with us until they can prove themselves.

9. They Lie To Other People In Front Of You.

I once had a guy bring me into a meeting in my own conference room with someone he was trying to sell his services to. Brazenly, he started hitting his mark with all of the same lies he had told me about how he was going to help my business, and then even took it a step further in calling me a business partner (we had just met) and using a barely-existent business of mine (I’d just come up with the name) as the brand that had done all the wonderful things he was selling him on.

For obvious reasons, if you catch someone lying to someone else, you can assume this a red flag that they are probably lying to you.

10. They Never Live Up To Expectations.

Last, but by no means least, are the people who don’t live up to their promises. Ever. There is always a reason for why something didn’t happen and it’s never their fault. All the increased sales or investment they promised never materialized. They are almost never on time. Something is late because a third party didn’t deliver on time. The person they referred to you ended up being a quack who dropped the ball. On and on and on.

If they over promise and under deliver even one time, keep your guard on high alert. It’s likely to keep happening. -SR