|“||My family invented most every con that you've ever heard of.||”|
— Greg Sherman
From TNT: When the LEVERAGE team goes up against a conman from a long lineage of greats, they must pull off the biggest con of their careers.
Shelia Emmers, a teacher at a private school for children with special needs. Sheila helps run their endowment fund. She invests with Greg Sherman, who defrauds the fund of $72,000.
As the con develops the team finds more of Greg Sherman's victims, including Mr. and Mrs. Wang whose father lost $68,000, Mrs. Cox who lost $16,400 and more, who eventually help them pull off the con.
Greg 'The Mako' Sherman, a third-generation con man and a direct descendant of the famed con man "The Yellow Kid". He believes his family invented almost every con ever used, and that he knows them all. His weakness is his hubris: he sees himself as able to anticipate every move the team might make, which makes him hyper-vigilant.
Knowing that Greg Sherman has heard of every con there ever was the team decides not to run a con on him because they know they won't be able to pull it off. Instead, they send Alec Hardison in to work in "the Mako's" boiler room in order to gain access to his accounts so the team can steal his money and give it back to those who were conned.
Sherman sees through Hardison's cover and Nathan Ford is forced to invent a con on the fly. Hardison convinces Sherman he is not stealing from him, but rather has been hired by "Count Chocula" to buy up cocoa futures. Sherman wants to meet Count Chocula, aka Nate, and when Sherman arrives, Ford is purposefully seen making deals with Sophie Devereaux aka The Chocolate Whisperer. Sherman goes to a chocolate festival to view the Chocolate Whisperer in action - she wins a chocolate tasting competition to establish her cover - and discovers she is about to open a large chocolate franchise in China.
Sherman and his muscle kidnap "Count Chocula" in order to force him to divulge his angle. He tells Sherman that he is buying up cocoa futures because he knows there will be a shortage which he will exacerbate by announcing the Chocolate Whisperer's plan to start a chocolate franchise in China. By then he will own most of the cocoa futures and will make an exorbitant amount of money.
Eliot Spencer takes Sherman to Ecuador to show him why the cocoa report will be wrong. He says the government is deforesting the area which will cause the cocoa crop to fail because of the increasing amounts of sunlight, something the farmers and authors of the cocoa report have not yet realized.
The crew then runs the last phase of the con by asking Sherman to bring $10m to the fake trading floor they have setup which they staff with the civilians Sherman has conned. Sherman knows he is being conned and doesn't bring the money, but instead buys up $30m of cocoa futures and "floods the market" with the fake story about the Chocolate Whisperer's plans for a Chinese franchise. While Sherman has been focused on thwarting the con, Hardison went back to his original plan and stole $30m of Sherman's money. The team then alerts the Feds—including their go-to FBI contact, Special Agent Todd McSweeten—who shut down the whole operation. Sherman gets charged with 47 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy and market manipulation and is hauled off to jail.
Epilogue: Nate's first meeting with LatimerEdit
Nate meets Jack Latimer, the man who bugged his apartment, for the first time in this episode and discovers how he has been using the Leverage team's cons to his advantage. Latimer discovered their crew on their first job when they took down Victor Dubenich and returned the hard drives to Pearson Aviation. Since then he has learned their patterns and has been betting against the companies the Leverage crew takes down. He offers to give Nate evidence of well-hidden corporate malfeasance, in exchange for 24 hrs notice before they move on their mark.
- Nathan Ford - Diego Messi aka "Count Chocula"
- Sophie Devereaux - Clarissa DuBois aka the Chocolate Whisperer
- Parker - Poppy, Clarissa's assistant
- Alec Hardison - Steve Bishaw
- Eliot Spencer - scary jungle guy "who knows things"
- A boiler room is a large call center where the sale of cheap goods or services is made via telephone, generally through the use of dishonest or fraudulent sales tactics. Most typically, the boiler-room is used to sell cheap stock or less commonly, real estate. The boiler room is usually operated by someone in collusion with the owner of the company whose stock is being sold, and operation of a boiler room is generally considered stock fraud. The quick sales drive up the price of the stock, the owners sell quickly, and get out with a profit. When the investor attempts to sell the now-worthless stock, they discover it has lost its value, and the investor's money. More recently, the term has come to mean any telephone sales environment, particularly involving the sale of stocks or other investments using high-pressure sales methods.
- The big store is a classic approach to a con. In most cases, grifters run cons in real locations. In some cases, where they need control of the action, they set up a simulated location, known as a big store, where they can create the conditions they need to run the con. Nate and the team set up a fake selling floor, staffed by Sherman's victims, and persuades Sherman to invest in his chocolate futures scheme, fully expecting Sherman to be so busy anticipating Nate's moves he'd be unaware of what Hardison was doing behind his back. The classic example of the big store is the betting parlor in The Sting.
- Jack Latimer, the man who bugged the team's apartment, is introduced for the first time.
- When Hardison makes his first call in the boiler room, he gives the potential client his word as a member of the Justice League of America (JLA). The JLA is a fictional group of superheroes from DC Comics. It includes such comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and The Green Lantern.
- Nate says that the people will be performing a version of the moonwalking bear which is a call to popular YouTube video called "Test Your Awareness: Do The Test".