VocabularyFilter: what does a dupe, mark or patsy do?
August 13, 2017 1:46 PM   Subscribe

I need a word that describes an action taken by someone who has been tricked into participating in a scam, but who is neither intentionally participating nor directly affected by it. Think of a person who receives a misdirected package and is asked to send it on to the "proper" recipient. (The scam would be that the misdirected package is actually stolen, or contains contraband, or something like that.)

"Dupe" (noun or verb) is very close to the right word, but I need the the noun referring to the action that the dupe performs, rather than the person or what has been done to him.
posted by spacewrench to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unconsciously abetting?
posted by Phire at 2:00 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

"unwitting complicity" - seems unwieldy but I think it is correct for what you want
posted by metahawk at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

A mark is a scammer's target.
posted by brujita at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by jamaro at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2017

"Unwitting complicity" is the closest so far...any ideas for turning that into a smaller mouthful?
posted by spacewrench at 2:06 PM on August 13, 2017

Well, it's not a smaller mouthful, but it's a noun you could use to describe the person rather than the situation: "unwitting accomplice."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

"aiding and abetting" is a common phrase for helping with a crime. Maybe modifying that phrase might make it less pompous, if not shorter. So, maybe "innocently aiding the criminals"? "or "innocently abetting" in the crime?
posted by metahawk at 2:25 PM on August 13, 2017

Oblivious accomplice? Ignorant complicity? Stooge?
posted by Rash at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think "unknowing accomplice" sounds more familiar, to my ear, than the other phrases so far -- not sure if that's helpful to you.
posted by amtho at 3:22 PM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Catspaw (from a fable where a monkey tricks a cat into pulling the chestnuts they're roasting out of the fire, so the monkey doesn't have to burn his paws.) It's got exactly the 'unwitting tool' sense you want, I think.
posted by LizardBreath at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

There's the legal term accessory which may be a little closer than accomplice. Accomplice has much more of a connotation of knowingly participating, whereas accessory - although legally still deemed to be aware that they are helping someone in the commission of a crime - seems a bit closer as they are not directly involved. Also I like the alliteration of "accidental accessory".
posted by Athanassiel at 4:22 PM on August 13, 2017

"naive participant" might be a little easier on the dictionary.
posted by rhizome at 4:26 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unwittingly facilitated
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 5:37 PM on August 13, 2017

For the verb phrase, which is I think what you are asking about, given in '-ing' continuous aspect, and putting together some of the good words above:

Unknowingly abetting
Unwittingly aiding
Cluelessly participating
Ignorantly facilitating

Mix and match and conjugate as necessary.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:52 PM on August 13, 2017

For the noun: mule.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:32 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

a cover.

a stooge.
posted by at at 8:47 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The noun referring to the duped person's actions could be "laundering", maybe depending on the case.
posted by bleep at 11:40 PM on August 13, 2017

Not really by their dictionary definitions, but perhaps "blunder" or "bumble" might work in your context.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:51 PM on August 13, 2017

The phrase "unwitting accomplice" was invented for this scenario.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:57 AM on August 14, 2017

Unwittingly facilitating?
posted by CathyG at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2017

« Older Stepthrough/mixte hybrid bikes for tall people.   |   Help me make my doctoral program a success Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.