I'm stuck for an expression that describes this example, which is similar to a "self-fulfilling prophecy" but is more complicated:

Someone claims, falsely, to be a dentist. Someone who likes that person, but doesn't realize he's not really a dentist, claims, falsely, that the guy did a fantastic job on his implants. He's sure his friend would do a fantastic job, he just needs a "helping hand" to get started.

So it's not a self-fulfilling prophecy (a prediction that causes itself to become true), it's a little white lie that unwittingly advances a deception. Self-serving (one's own interests, often in disregard of the truth) is close but in this case it looks like there's no "self" in the action.

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    I would call the second person an "unwitting accessory to a con," where con has the sense of "confidence game"—that is, fraud. – Sven Yargs Aug 26 '15 at 7:19
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    I'm going to try making something up -- see if this is useful for you: The friend gave a hearsay recommendation. – aparente001 Aug 26 '15 at 13:58
  • @plugincontainer An "unwitting partner-in-con" maybe? – Elian Sep 26 '15 at 10:56

If the not-dentist-pretending-to-be-a-dentist (the impostor) asked the friend to give a recommendation, the friend is a shill for the impostor.

SHILL (noun) An accomplice of a hawker, gambler or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.

If the friend does it of his own volition, I would say he's still shilling, but on a volunteer basis.


"Shill" isn't bad term here, but a shill is an accomplice of a fraudster. Here, the friend doesn't realize that he's recommending someone who's not a dentist. The friend is more of a tout, someone who solicits business on behalf of another.


As suggested by Marthaª below...

I think the answer is: "unwitting shill", because it describes nicely the role of the friend of the fraudster (plus, nice assonance).

  • Unwitting - "without knowing or planning"
  • Shill - "someone who helps another person to persuade people to buy something, especially by pretending to be a satisfied customer"

So he is partially absolved by "unwitting" but deservedly condemned by "shill".

This answer was suggested by others - "shill" by Brian Hitchcock and "unwitting" by Sven Yargs, Elian and Bookeater.

  • Actually, you should be able to comment on your own post, regardless of your reputation level. Also, the best thing to do if one of the answers meets your requirements is to mark it as "Accepted" by clicking on the check-mark next to it. – Hellion Oct 2 '15 at 19:27
  • The right answer for me is "unwitting shill". Someone did suggest the "shill" part and someone else "unwitting". But I see no check-mark to click on the answers (I did, and clicked, on this one: english.stackexchange.com/questions/277517/…) – plugincontainer Oct 2 '15 at 21:34
  • @plugincontainer: this might be a good time to self-answer your question, giving credit where it's due to the people who suggested the individual parts. In other words, edit this "answer" so it becomes an actual answer. – Marthaª Oct 3 '15 at 0:12
  • @Marthaª - well, I can comment now, but no check-mark (gray tick that turns green) appears beside any of the answers, so I can't accept any of them, even mine. – plugincontainer Oct 3 '15 at 8:22
  • @plugincontainer: it looks like you have two different accounts - notice the different avatars. This page has instructions for merging the accounts. – Marthaª Oct 3 '15 at 15:28

partner in crime maybe? Or I would call this helping friend as an 'aide'. This helping friend would be charged guilty by association, legally speaking.





I'd say unwitting accomplice would nicely fit the bill. Quite close to what deadrat answers.


  1. (Of a person) not aware of the full facts
  2. Not done on purpose; unintentional


A person who helps another commit a crime

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/unwitting http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/accomplice

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