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Addicted to a scam?

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Addicted to a scam?

Unread postby HillBilly » Fri Nov 22, 2013 3:28 am

Addicted to a scam?

A good con artist knows how to convince people by speaking to their emotions. This emotion is most often greed, but can also be one's sexual needs, compassion, love, or religious beliefs. You just have to know which triggers to push, and you can fool anyone at least once. But there are also those scams where the reasons go far beyond greed, gullibility or anything else, where the victim becomes so hooked it can only be described as an addiction. Most of us at FraudWatchers and other scamfighting communities have seen a few cases of this.

There are people who will continously answer any fraudulent proposal they receive, hoping that one of them just might be for real. Usually these have lost at least some money to a scam at one point, and while they accept that that particular proposal was a scam, they were still convinced by certain parts of the story, and want to recover their money by finding the real one.

There are others who get stuck with a single scam, which is usually far worse. The typical victim in this case has never seen a Nigerian scam before, and falls for the first one he receives. Perhaps he has doubts about it, but he still sends them the first payment. By then he has made a financial and probably emotional investment, and feels he can not simply stop, even if he has doubts when they ask for more money. This can turn into what can only be called an addiction.

He will send any amount of money requested. Once he runs out, he may borrow from the bank and all his friends and family, until he has no friends left and his family will no longer speak to him. They may sell their possessions and steal from their workplace and commit serious financial crimes simply to pay the scammers. They will trust the scammer above anyone else, trying to reason with them is very difficult. Showing that there are thousands of similar emails sent out every day will not sway them.

A good con artist is also completely without remorse or sympathy for his victims, or at least he will not hesitate to ask for the next payment regardless of his victim's current situation. He will happily ask them to do whatever they can in order to send the next payment, often claiming to be in similar circumstances himself in order to elicit sympathy and create a bond. The knowledge that he is ruining someone's life does not stop him. Yes, there are people like that too.

Another reason that people sometimes give for why they fell so deeply for the scam, is that they refused to believe any person could be so remorseless. Some baiters (people who communicate with scammers for fun, to waste their time or gather information) have tried to investigate just how far they will go. For the majority of professional scammers there seem to be no limits to what they will ask of their victims.

In addition to the few news stories mentioned below, I have personally come across at least three cases of possible addiction. One was a woman in Europe who fell for a South African scammer. She sent approximately US$200,000 over the course of a year. She was mostly broke, fired from her job once, her adult children would no longer speak with her and her husband had threatened divorce. She still kept sending them payments when she could afford it. Last thing I heard, she was in contact with the South African police, thanks to a fellow scamfighter who managed to get through to her.

Another very trusting man in the US, a father of three young children, had sold his car, stereo, furniture and TV. He borrowed money from everyone he knew and went from being a well-liked guy to, in his own words, "I am like **** to all". He even called the real bank that the scammer claimed to work at and confirmed there was no employee by that name, and accused him of running a scam on numerous occasions. This didn't stop him from sending the next payment, but he did eventually accept that it really was a scam.

And there is the case of Jiri Pasovsky, which has been reported in the media. In February 2003 he shot and killed the consul of the Nigerian embassy in Prague, after having lost over US$500,000 to a Nigerian email scam. He received a prison sentence, but was later released for reasons of insanity. I also happen to know that, after he was released, he has kept answering all the scam emails he receives, dismissing them once he decided they were scams. Eventually he became too sickly to do it himself, and his wife took up the burden instead. While their reasoning is unknown to me, I would presume it is with the intention of getting their money back.

You do not have to be insane to fall for a 419 scam, but in severe cases professional counseling can be a very good idea. The effects, both to the victim and to his family and friends, are similar to a gambling addiction, and should be familiar to most psychologists.

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