“A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.”
― Alfred Tennyson
In true sense, the word deception implies ‘make believe’, that is, convincing a person that something exists whereas, in reality, it does not exist. Deception is a simple tool for enticing people and trapping them to believe in something unbelievable. This is an evil that has subsisted among human beings since time immemorial in literature and history we come across several uses of deceptive methods; even in our contemporary world, deception is rampant. In fact, such is the enormity of deception that it is often difficult to distinguish the real from the fake. Consequently, even today we come across reports of how many large corporations, especially related to chit funds, dupe their investors through unrealistic schemes. As a result of their ‘get-rich-quickly schemes lakhs of innocent investors lose their lifelong savings because they are shown the dream of coming out of their miseries but are pushed to the brink of perishing.
Deception is also a major tool used in forging currency notes and other negotiable instruments like cheques and drafts. Governments across the world have introduced many new techniques to ensure that their markets are not flooded by fake currency notes or negotiable instruments but, so far, there has been no fool-proof methodology to prevent the menace. Master criminals always manage to deceive by preparing exact copies of the originals. The same applies for important documents like passports and visas.
With the dawn of online shopping, fraudsters have had a free-run as it is practically easy to dupe people and escape without leaving a trace. People end up paying money for products bought online but never actually receive the goods on many occasions, or even if they do, such goods are either defective or elaborately wrapped empty boxes are provided. Consequently, tracking cyber-criminals is very difficult and the number to solved cases is low.
However, like everything else, even deception is a double-edged weapon: it can be used against a deceitful enemy and so serves as an important military tactic, especially in guerrilla warfare. We have read how Babur, the first Mughal Emperor enticed Ibrahim Lodhi to charge headlong and then fall into the covered trenches on the battlefield or how Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha warrior, used deception to kill Afzal Khan and harass Aurangzeb. Nobody can ever forget the deception carried out by Mark Antony in inciting the Romans from the Forum to rebel against the conspirators who killed Julius Caesar.
In present day military tactics, elaborate plans are drawn out to combat the enemy. The best-known methodology is to plant spies among them so that delicate information can be easily retrieved and the opponent’s actions can be monitored.