Appearances can be deceiving. You can easily trust someone you barely know, simply because you perceive them to be honest and decent. They may ‘appear’ to be trustworthy and you may not see that they are trying to deceive you.

If this has happened in the past, have you blamed yourself for being naïve or thought yourself stupid for being blinded by their cunningness? If you have, don’t punish yourself unfairly. It’s not your fault that you are trusting and that some others are masters of deceit. Some people have made a life of being excellent at creating lies that are intended to mislead others.

Deceit pertains to a specific act, scheme, or trick to cunningly fool or outwit someone. It is the total opposite of honesty. There are different forms of deceit, but it is a habit or pattern of behavior that someone does intentionally to mislead. A deceitful person is prone to cheat, lie, mislead, hide and falsify the truth. It may cleverly not entail outright lying but can be subtle and trickier. The person misleads others by omitting, concealing, or distorting the truth.

Deceitful People Lie, Cheat, and Steal

Deceit can be hard to detect because the deceiver is skilled in making plans to mislead or persuade you. It helps to be familiar with their characteristics to avoid becoming a victim of lies and dishonesty. However, although they have distinct characteristics, they are still hard to spot!

Here are some of their characteristics, so be aware:

Pretend To Be Whoever They Want

They are good liars and can pretend to be anyone they want to be, and people will believe them. Have you seen the movie based on the autobiography of Frank Abagnale? He was able to deceive many, many people! He claimed to be a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and more… and he got away with it and made millions of dollars while still in his teens. People like this have a motive to gain people’s trust and confidence and scam them financially.

Have a Pleasant Personality and Appearance

As with our example above, a person like Frank Abagnale has a pleasant personality and is often physically attractive. This gives them an even greater advantage in deceiving people, as they ‘appear’ honest.

Unfortunately, many people associate ‘good’ with ‘attractive.’ Having good looks can induce positive expectations about their character to some people. They can appear irresistible as they masquerade their intentions with a pleasant demeanor. They give off a good first impression.


They take credit for other people’s work. They encourage you to share your insights, knowledge, or valuable information about a project, and then take all the credit for your hard work and effort! Have you heard this famous quote?

‘Show me a liar and I’ll show you a thief.’
– George Herbert

This saying is certainly a true one. They are not at all bothered that their ‘stealing’ can hurt someone’s feelings or reputation.


They are unconventional liars who can weave lies and truth to manipulate. They don’t look fearful, guilty, or anxious. During conversations, they are in total control and appear confident and relaxed. They are clever in their scheming to make things go the way they want them to.

If confronted, they communicate with repetitive statements that allow them time to think of believable answers, while making animated gestures to distract their listeners. Their passionate speech and expressions allow them to manipulate sympathetic listeners.

Hate Apologizing

Deceitful people don’t admit or take responsibility if they are in the wrong because they cannot bear the thought of having to apologize to anyone. They have a disproportionate sense of self-importance. You will rarely hear a dishonest person apologize, and if anything they will turn the tables and blame you. They usually have a handful of victims they use as a scapegoat for their mistakes and poor life choices.

Unpredictable and Belittling

You cannot easily determine a devious person’s aims because of their unpredictable behavior. They often vary their patterns of behavior to make others second-guess themselves and keep guessing what they might do next.

Beware of those who discreetly belittle your self-worth to others, or cause other people you both know to lose their faith in you. They want to influence these people to dislike you, or you to dislike someone that can see through their schemes and lies.

Always Defensive

If you confront them about their lies and deception, they become super defensive. They will deny your accusations until you start believing you were wrong and possibly misjudged them. They want you to doubt yourself so they look like they are honest and unfairly misunderstood. You may notice signs in their body language. For example, they may start to cry, appear hard-done-by, avert their gaze and cross their arms.

Final Thoughts

No one likes to be the victim of a deceitful person. If you suspect someone is like this, try to identify their behaviors early, so you can protect yourself. They are people you should not trust, even if they are family members, friends, co-workers, or partners.