Social engineering is really no different than any old-school scam from the past, other than modern technology is the setting (for the modern attack).
Infamous hacker turned computer security consultant Kevin Mitnick, featured in the Werner Herzog documentary “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World,” very much embodies the dark art of the Social Engineered Attack.
Mitnick is perhaps best known for breaking into the networks of IBM, Nokia and Motorola (in the case of Motorola, he stole their source code simply by talking an employee there into emailing it to him). He also claims to have compromised computers solely by using passwords and codes that he gained by social engineering.
In other words, the one-time cyber criminal’s most dangerous weapon was his gift of gab, manipulating his victims just as a puppeteer would his marionette.