I do not understand the meaning of "in, " in the following text:

Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research. Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.),

Any advice would be appreciated.

3 Answers 3


This is actually a tricky piece to understand, because it's not only the slang language of criminals, it's a metaphor in the slang of criminals.

Some criminals specialize in stealing goods - goods that are usually protected, in a location that is believed to be secure, such as protected inside a locked safe, inside a bank vault.

To accomplish such a theft, obviously the first obstacle that must be solved is getting inside that secured location. This is so common a problem that to have solved it is just abbreviated to "[being] in", or just "in". "Once we're in, I'll be the lookout, while you crack the safe." "Once in, we'll only have twenty minutes before the security system resets and the alarm goes off."

In the passage you quoted, they use slang of con artists such as 'mark' (the intended victim of a con artist's scheme) but they don't put it in quotes. They put "in" in quotes because it's being borrowed from a different slang, that of thieves, and used metaphorically. A scammer who convinces Grandma that he is actually her grandson has overcome the first obstacle in his crime, just as a thief who has broken into a vault has overcome his first obstacle. The thief is now in; metaphorically, the con artist is also "in".


To understand the meaning of once in better this could be rephrased:

After gaining grandma's confidence...


Once taken in...

meaning when the scammer has Grandma believing his story.

See the definition of take in sense 5, "to deceive or swindle".

  • Would "in, " make sense if used without quotation marks? Once in, the fake grandchild will...
    – B Faley
    Sep 21, 2014 at 7:52

The quotation marks are being used in this case to indicate that the word in is being used as con artist slang. The meaning was given in the previous sentence: "established a fake identity" but it is relying on the reader to make that connection themselves based on the context rather than stating it explicitly.

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