During American Hustle, I was trying to determine why people were falling for Irving's loan scam. I understand that desperate people would pay a small nonrefundable fee up front to secure a fake overseas loan. I've heard of similar email scams, but this one has a physical real-life location.

After realizing the money never showed up, wouldn't people just walk back to 'London Associates' and threaten Irving?

1 Answer 1


The point of the scam was the the international, "off the books" tax avoidance scams were themselves illegal, and the people who would apply for them would do so because either:

A: They couldn't obtain credit through legitimate sources


B: They didn't want their business held under official scrutiny

The deals would not have viable without connections, and as such Irving was only the broker of the deal. What he was charging was a non-refundable brokerage fee, although he does tell people that he always obtains their money this is typical salesman spiel. Both parties know that what they are doing is illegal.

The too-good-to-be-true deal will naturally raise the suspicions of potential marks, and so the reason 'Sydney Prosser' is such an asset is because she is able to negate the apprehensions of the mark and provide ballast to the narrative of the sting.

There would be nothing to threaten Irving with other than vioilence, which he is obviously prepared for (he's packing) and besides, as far as the mark is concerned its simply a case of the deal not being successful. The beauty of the sting is that the mark obviously has something to hide, something to devalue the nature of the deal, otherwise they would be obtaining the loan legally.

It's likely that most of the marks would be angry/dissapointed that their deal was unsuccesful, but with nothing legal to be done about it and (as far as they're concerned) Irving not being the point of blame, they would evaluate the situation and realise there is nothing to be done.

Whilst it's not overtly stated, its inferred one of these disgruntled customers tipped off the FBI to Irvings dealings, either realising they'd been scammed, through frustration or possibly as part of a co-operative deal they themselves were making for consideration of their own case (remember! these people are largely crooks themselves).

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