Tony Levene examines the psycho-pathology of the scammer.

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Offline David Cox

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Every day I'm under attack. But my prospective assailants don't want to kill me or maim me or even rip the (Argos) wris****ch from my body.

Instead, a succession of dodgy dealers, bent brokers, evil emails, and perverted property agents bombard me with appeals that pretend will make me rich but will, in reality, only move money from my account to theirs. And as their accounts will be in offshore places, you'll need a very big atlas to find, I know that once the cash goes, that's the end.

I'm the Scam Magnet and attract swindlers but I'm not the only one. Whether it's the old-fashioned con artist selling London Bridge or the North Yorkshire moors to rich tourists, or boiler room shares, or farmland sold with “guaranteed planning potential”, scammers work a well-trodden path.

They know they have to target many people to get one victim. Phoning 200 people in ten hours and having one bite for £10,000 is a good day's work.
Scams don't involve violence but psychology.

Keep guarding, to the scamming mind – a “psychopathology” of crimes grossing more that burglary and mugging put together but too often unreported.

The psychopathology of the scammer

Here are the ten points they learn at Con-Artist College:

1) Conceal your aggressive intentions

No knives, guns or scary clothing. Respectability rules – that includes seemingly expensive addresses, well-designed brochures and websites, and operatives who sound highly educated.

2) Know vulnerabilities

Just as a battlefield commander looks for the enemy's less well-defended spots, the scammer seeks blind spots to exploit.

3) Be clinically ruthless

This is war so the scammer has no awareness or qualms over the harm he's doing. “Front line” operatives – the ones who phone you – will have various “self-defence” mechanisms such as convincing themselves they are working for a legitimate organisation.

4) Positive reinforcement

The scammer flatters you and boosts your ego. This makes you vulnerable. Methods include admiring your financial knowledge, praising your position in society (they always try to probe your occupation and family status) and pretend sympathy with any investment losses you have made.

5) Negative reinforcement


The “guilt trap” where victims are made to feel bad because they have not made the financial returns the scammer is promising. The sympathy (point 4) simply serves to boost the guilt feeling. Negative reinforcement can also include emotional blackmail (your family will suffer unless you buy this) and the threat of withdrawing the offer because “you are not ready” or even “you are not worthy”.

6) Lying

This sounds obvious but scammer train so they actually believe what they say, beating lie-detectors any day. In his head, the conman minimises or denies the effect of his actions on those he is trying to defraud. This is easier when the crook feels totally in “control” of the conversation. Some will use your first name all the time – from a stranger, this is way of making you feel small. And much of the lying is leaving out vital facts that, if revealed, would make victims aware.

7) Selective attention and diversion

Scammers learn to side-step certain questions potential victims might ask by either ignoring them (victims under “control” won't protest) or diverting to something “positive”. Another tactic makes the victim feel guilty for asking after all the “trust” that has been built up.

8) Comparison

The scammer will often compare himself to the victim. Pyramid schemes almost invariably use the “I was as poor as you once now I have a Rolls-Royce, a £2m home and bathe in champagne” line. The idea is what one person can ostensibly do, so can you. Of course, the car and house in the picture will probably have been rented for the photo-shoot.

9) Confusion and control

Scammers know it's vital victims eat out of their hands. They will often ensure you have pen and paper at hand so you can take down details of how their scheme will bring quick riches. This dictation helps control the conversation while victims will be “grateful” that a complex and confusing plan has been explained.

10) Throwing a gift

This element can take on various guises from access to a “confidential” website to a glossy book or brochure. Once a victim is hooked, they will often immediately go into profit – although they won't be able to encash their “winnings.”
« Last Edit: July 03, 2019, 12:32:21 by Tanveer Karn »
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