Q. Why do people fall victim to scammers?
It’s largely because humans are sociable animals and the scammers take advantage of traits almost all of us share.
These include herd instinct. If a lot of people have believed in something them it seems safe for you to believe in it as well. This works in religion, TV advertising, politics and scamming. The scammer will present his case that many thousands of people have tried this product and proved it works – so should you.
Also the trait of fear of losing out. Scammers use the same trick that advertisers use of putting a false end date on something that makes the product or service seem more attractive and that you have to act now to get it.
“This video will only be on the Internet till midnight so be sure to watch it now”
The need to please. We all want to please others so they may like us or approve of us and that controls much of our behaviour including why we don’t tell the scammers where to go.
We tend to trust in authority so scammers sending their 419 scams often assume the role of an important person at the United Nations or a government official or a minister or a doctor. We instinctively trust some jobs.
And so it goes on. What makes us humans able to live in large groups also makes us vulnerable to scammers and other criminals.
The Scammers Method
Step 1: Select Your Target Audience
The scammer looks for people who are on the lookout for ‘something for nothing’ – wanting a get rich quick scheme.
This is the type of person that may respond to a Nigerian 419 type scam – offering a large reward for basically doing nothing and may be manipulated into paying something up front. These people probably don t want details – just a promise of riches. This is essentially targeting greed and laziness.
If you target people who may be open to a little underhand behaviour to make money then the scams involving shipping large caches of money from a conflict zone may work.
Or you can target well meaning types who just want to help others – maybe a Christian fake donation scam might work or a scam based around donations to help people caught up in a natural disaster.
You get the point.
Step 2: Sell the Dream
Don’t give facts or useful information – sell the dream of riches beyond the imagination, a relaxed lifestyle of islands in the sun, private jets, first class travel and more – all available for little effort.
Include large impressive numbers – doesn’t matter if there isn’t any truth in them – people just accept numbers. Make them up. Include graphics to validate the numbers.
Step 3: Show What’s Possible
Brag about your jet set lifestyle – include photos of you in beautiful places and sometimes with a computer showing you can do this ‘work’ anywhere in the world.
Include photos of other people who’ve made loads of money with your product / service. Fake of course.
“You’re ready to be your own boss and be in control, answering to no-one”
Step 4: Prove It
Include stories / testimonials of others who’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dream with your product / service
These should always be of people who were failures before and then suddenly all of that changed.
Step 5: Give the Hard Sell
Now you switch to using fear tactics
“You’ll kick yourself if you don’t take this offer now”
“You don’t want to the one who missed out”
“Don’t be afraid in life – take that chance”
“Go for it – you will be a big big winner”
And include time limits.
“This offer ends tomorrow so you must sign up NOW or miss out for ever”
Step 6: Take the money and run.
This is a standard sequence used in many scams – realise what they are doing and don’t fall for it.
You might have noticed that advertisers use a lot of these same tricks, but hopefully without the lies.
Don’t be caught out.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.