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The Fiddle Game is a con used in the episode The Studio Job.

The fiddle game is a confidence trick, involving two players. The first player enters a restaurant, dressed poorly and carrying a violin, and asks to be seated. He eats his meal, then contrives a reason to leave. Typically he is short a little money, but this could be any of a variety of reasons, as long as it allows for a swift return for payment. No host would allow him to do so, but as insurance he offers his violin, praising its sentimental value and emphasizing its necessary return. An agreement is reached; the man leaves. His confederate then approaches the host, requesting to inspect the instrument. Doing so, he makes much ado about its hidden value, revealing it to be a lost masterpiece. He offers a large sum for it, but cannot wait for its owner to return; he leaves his card with the host and ask that he pass it along.

This con, as many do, relies on the inherent dishonesty of the mark. An honest mark, upon the first man's return, will hand over both card and instrument, leaving the partners out the cost of two dinners, but still in possession of the violin. The other response, and the one the con artists hope for, is the dishonest man's. With the return of the first man, the mark will attempt to purchase the violin, banking on making a quick profit with the number of the collector. The first man parts with the violin, but very reluctantly, driving up the amount the mark is willing to pay. At the end, the partners split whatever the mark paid them for the violin; the mark is left with a cheap wooden toy and a bogus business number.


In the episode, Eliot, using the alias Kenneth Crane, is the fiddle. Nate presents himself as a small-time manager, introducing the mark, Mitchell Kirkwood, to Crane, an unknown country singer Nate who has written a song Nate is promoting. He directs Kirkwood's attention to Sophie, describing her as Virginia Ellington, a European agent interested in purchasing Crane's song. who presents the idea that Eliot is secretly worth a multi-million dollar contract, which she was buying, from Nate, for only $25,000. This leads the Mark to pursue his own pre-contract, for $100,000; trumping Sophie's offer; which is, of course, all profit to the Leverage Consulting & Associates Team.



The Mark, however, has other plans. And instead of simply buying the "fiddle", he plans to kill Eliot, and take the intellectual rights of his song for the Mark to perform himself.

The guy who is buying our fiddle, he thinks he is the fiddle.

Sophie Devereaux, The Studio Job

Eliot and company expose the plot, which had already been done on a previous artist (Jessie Jenkins). Ultimately, a twist on the original con.


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