A scam uses deception to take someone’s money. Some say it began in the Garden of Eden when the serpent talked Eve into tasting the forbidden fruit. Until recently, scammers had to meet their victim face-to-face and sometimes take great risks. In the Digital Age, a scammer never comes in contact with their victim and can scam millions of people at a time, virtually without risk of getting caught. Follow me to see how scammers do it and how to avoid their traps.
What Is a Scam?
The word scam gets tossed about a lot online and is often misused. If you purchase a product and are disappointed with it, that does not necessarily make it a scam. If the seller did not use deception to make you buy the product, it’s probably not a scam.
Often online sales letters will over-promise and underdeliver. While this is misleading and unethical, it still may fall short of a scam. Although, it certainly is approaching the realm of deception.
A scam is a deliberately orchestrated plan of deception to bilk someone out of their money.
In the past, before the Digital Age, a scam was known as a con. “Con” is short for Confidence because a con, or a scam, can only work when the scammer has gained the confidence of the victim.
Confidence is Essential.
Once a scammer has gained the confidence of the person they intend to scam, they can manipulate that person. In traditional con artist lexicon, the victim is known as a mark, but they are also called a sucker, bates, dupe, green, jake, john, rube, apple, and Mr. Goodman.
In the past, contact between the con artist and the mark was required. If a con only required one contact, it was known as a short con. However, if multiple contacts were required, it was known as a long con. Now, with the internet, no contact at all is required. Cons have become scams on the internet.
Scams in the Digital Age.
Now, in the digital age, most scams occur online through websites, telemarketing, email, and social media. However, the core of online scams remains the same as age-old cons. They still abide by the same principles and tactics of confidence, deception, and misdirection to take people’s money.
To make matters worse, online scammers are often based in countries where they are safe from prosecution.
Unfortunately, once money is lost online, it is usually gone forever. However, if you paid with a credit card, debit card or PayPal there is a chance you can recover your money if you contact them quick enough.
Scammers know that money paid with a credit card, debit card or through PayPal may be reclaimed. To make sure they keep the money they scam out of people, scammers demand that funds are paid with a money order or a wire transfer.
If a merchant or online business demands payment with a money order or wire transfer, it’s a scam.
What Is A Scam Artist?
In the hierarchy of the criminal world, scammers may think of themselves as above petty criminals and see themselves as intelligent and sophisticated.
Unlike common thieves, a scammer does not need to use force, intimidation or threats to get what she wants. In fact, a scammer probably doesn’t think of herself as a criminal at all.
Only a fraction of the population is cut out to be a scammer. It takes a specific personality type to charm a victim into trusting them and then talking the victim into giving them something for nothing. And that is just the beginning, a scammer must also be capable of taking money from the poor and needy without hesitation or guilt.
A psychiatrist would label such a person a sociopath.
True to the sociopath personality, a scammer has no conscience. Taking the life savings from an elderly widow or a dying person desperate for help means nothing to them. They have no sense of responsibility for the harm they cause others and usually blame the victim.
A scammer gets a rush from scamming people. They live for the thrill. When they pull off a successful scam, they might believe they are smarter than the mark. For them, working a scam is skillfully playing a game and winning the game affirms they are better than the rest.
For a scam to work, a scammer must first hook the victim into the scam. This is typically done online by stimulating a victim’s sense of greed. The scammer entices them with a promise of fast easy money, maybe even the promise of something for nothing.
Greed is a powerful emotion and any time we are in an emotional state, we cannot think properly. The scammer knows this and will try to make you greedy for the pig in a poke they are selling.
A sure sign you are being drawn into a scam is if you feel greedy for what they are offering, but don’t truly understand what it is they are offering.
The Internet has opened a new cosmos for scammers. Law enforcement has described it as the Wild West and impossible to police.
Scammers have practically free rein online. If law enforcement shuts down the scammer’s server or ISP. The scammer can be on a new server within an hour. If law enforcement outlaws their activity in one country, the scammer moves to another country.
Also, online scammers often have access to a person’s personal information and financial information. Through the internet, particularly email, a scammer can contact thousands of potential victims at a near-zero cost and with no way to be traced. Plus, the scammer can pretend to be anyone from anywhere.
Failure to Deliver.
A leading online scam includes selling products and taking the customer’s money for the purchase but never delivering the goods or delivering inferior goods. Many of these scam websites are based in China. Before you purchase from an unfamiliar website, check the trustworthiness of that site at ScamAdviser.
Make Money Online Scams.
Make money online offers are perfect vehicles for scams because it permits the scammer to crank up a victim’s greed. Once a victim feels greedy for the scammer’s pig in a poke, they are lost.
Many online scammers have become wealthy promising to help their victims become rich.
Because of a common belief that it’s possible to make a lot of money fast online, many people fall for internet scams promising fast easy riches.
The truth is, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for an inexperienced person to make money online quickly. It takes training and time to successfully make money on the internet. Most people don’t want to invest the time, money and energy it takes to properly learn how to make money online. Instead, they want the fast, easy way. There isn’t one, but that doesn’t stop scammers from promising there is.
To learn about scams and how to avoid them, read How to Really Make Money Online and Never Get Scammed.
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