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One of the unfortunate realisations when you start to be involved in giving money to people is that there are some people who will do anything to get their hands on that money, including build elaborate fantasies with just enough documentation to convince you that it's all real: in other words, con-men.

Just as bad, there are people who are conning themselves, and who are passing that delusion on to you when they meet you. Those are more common than the former (perhaps that's a good thing!).

What this means in practice, as Mark Suster points out in this article, is:

Always assume the worst. Always question the motives of those sending you dealfow - regardless of how nice they are or well meaning. I'm not saying all dealflow is bad or all referrers are hucksters. I'm just saying that you need to look at it through the lens of the motive. I always ask when somebody sends me a deal, for example, are you already a shareholder in the company?

If you've done your due diligence and the opportunity checks out, then go for it... but always question things that seem too good to be true and that magically land in your lap. Being just the right amount of suspicious is an essential business skill.

More from the library:
Doing more by doing less
The real use of money is to buy freedom
How many VCs should you have?