Pseudocide – How Scammers Are Learning To Be Smarter About Ending Their Scams!
Pseudocide: A Way to convince victims to go away quietly!
What is Pseudocide?
Pseudocide, also known as faked death or staged death, is the act of intentionally deceiving others into believing that one is dead, when in fact one is still alive.
People who commit pseudocide may do so for a variety of reasons, such as to escape debt, to avoid prosecution for a crime, to start a new life, or to gain sympathy or attention. But we are now seeing examples of this ploy being used by scammers involved in relationship scams as a means to disengage from their victims more easily (for the scammer, though now for the victim.)
How Pseudocide is being used by Scammers
Pseudocide, short for “pseudocide” or “pseudocidal,” refers to the act of faking one’s death or disappearance. In pseudocide, an individual intentionally creates a false impression that they have died or gone missing, often with the aim of escaping from real or perceived problems, evading authorities, or starting a new life under a different identity. This can involve various deceptive actions, such as leaving behind staged evidence of their death, including a fake body, identification, or suicide note. In the case of relationship scams, it is being used to disengage from the victim, but also possibly to set the stage for another scam related to that death.
Scammers already claim a variety of fake emergencies during the course of the relationship/romance scams, such as accidents, kidnappings, being injured in war zones, and many more. So it is actually surprising that they have not thought to use this approach earlier than this.
If the storyline from the scammers dealt with some life-threatening situation, then to end the scam they have a third person contact the victim to tell them that the fake person died as a result of illness, accident, or other cause. The ‘person’ making the notification is likely another member of the scammer’s team or gang.
Examples of Pseudocide
We have seen now a few examples of pseudocide and how this is also being used to set up a follow-on scam:
- After notification of death, there are (of course) funeral expenses, and the victim is asked to pay for these.
- After death, because the fake person is in a foreign country, there are expenses associated with returning the body back to their home country.
- There may be an inheritance, and this is how the victim will get their money back but naturally, there are fees and expenses before the victim can receive the inheritance.
- In many of these stories there is a minor child, so naturally the child will have to go to an orphanage and the victim will need to pay for the maintenance of the child – food, clothes, healthcare, etc.
In short, anything that any normal person would have to deal with after the death of a loved one is now a new opportunity for the scammers to get more money from the victim.
The Special Case of Pig Butchering Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
A pig butchering scam is a type of romance scam or trust-based scam in which the scammer develops a relationship (romantic or friendship) and will lead them to unbelievably high-return investments. The victim invests their money and then loses it. See here for more about Pig Butchering scams.
The term pseudocide can be used when a business fakes that it has gone out of business or closed down. This is because pseudocide is defined as the act of intentionally deceiving others into believing that one is dead, when in fact one is still alive.
In most cases, pig butchering scams are about investing money with a high return on a company’s website or app. Usually, they just vanish leaving the victim devastated, angry, and wanting their money back.
In the special case where a ‘business’ fakes its own death, this has the benefit of letting the victim believe that the money is unrecoverable because the business shut down. With greater and greater success by law enforcement in the recovery of cryptocurrency for victims, faking a shutdown has advantages since the victim will immediately accept that their money is unrecoverable. This will deter many victims from even trying to report the crime or obtain recovery since they belive it is impossible.
What makes Pseudocide an Effective Dodge!
We all live in a complex world where people die every day and where businesses come and go. This is a part of normal life.
When a Person Dies …
There are a few reasons why we automatically accept the finality of death when we learn that another person has died.
- Death is a universal human experience. Everyone dies, and we are all aware of this fact. This awareness primes us to accept death as a natural and inevitable part of life.
- Death is often sudden and unexpected. This can make it difficult to process and accept, but it also means that we don’t have time to dwell on the possibility of the person coming back to life.
- Death is often accompanied by rituals and traditions. These rituals and traditions can help us to grieve and to come to terms with the loss. They can also reinforce the idea that death is final and irreversible.
- The act of death raises no red flags. The cause of death, yes maybe, but not the actuality of death.
In addition to these factors, our personal beliefs about death can also influence how we accept the finality of it. For example, people who believe in an afterlife may be more likely to view death as a transition to a new state of being. On the other hand, people who do not believe in an afterlife may be more likely to view death as the end of existence. Either way, when we hear about the death of someone, we turn toward mourning and grief, we do not automatically question if the death is real.
When a Business Closes or Goes Out of Business …
Interestingly or ironically, in general, we are more likely or more easily to accept the closure of a business than the death of a person. This is because businesses are not human, they are impersonal, they are constantly changing, and they come and go constantly. In fact, over 90% of new businesses go out of business in their first 2 years.
There are a few reasons why we automatically accept the finality of it when a business has closed or gone out of business:
- Businesses are not human. They are legal entities, and they do not have the same rights and protections as human beings. This makes it easier for us to accept the closure of a business, even if it is a business that we like or rely on.
- Businesses are impersonal. We may interact with employees of a business, but we rarely have a personal relationship with the business itself. This makes it easier for us to detach ourselves from a business and to accept its closure.
- Businesses are constantly changing. New businesses are opening all the time, and old businesses are closing all the time. This is a natural part of the economic cycle, and we have come to expect it.
Of course, there are some cases where we may not automatically accept the finality of a business closing. For example, if a business that we rely on for essential goods or services closes, we may be more likely to feel the impact of its closure and resist accepting it.
However, this is made easier when the scammers tell an additional story about the business closure, such as: The business has closed down and gone into bankruptcy, and while it may take a year or two, the victim can apply to the court to get any money back. Or, the business has been seized by the government, and they will set up a commission to refund money to victims, but this will take a year or more. Victims are likely to accept these stories and not attempt recovery through their law enforcement agencies.
Obviously, the why of this approach is to put the victim into a mindset where they do not suspect a crime. Where the victim can, on some level, acknowledge and accept the loss, or believe there are real opportunities to get it back in the future and they just have to wait. Plus, it can set up new opportunities for additional scams: lawyers fees, government fees, etc.
Pseudocide is Used in many other kinds of Crime
Pseudocide, or faking one’s own death, has been used as a fraudulent tactic in various ways almost since the beginning of time.
Some instances of pseudocide in fraud include:
- Insurance Fraud: In some cases, individuals have faked their deaths to claim life insurance benefits. They may stage their deaths, disappear for a while, and then reappear to collect the insurance money.
- Identity Theft: Pseudocide can be part of an identity theft scheme. By faking their death and assuming a new identity, individuals may attempt to evade law enforcement or creditors pursuing them for fraud or other criminal activities.
- Investment Frauds: Some investment scams involve the promise of lucrative returns on investments. Scammers may use pseudocide to disappear once they’ve collected funds from investors, leaving victims with significant financial losses.
- Debt Evasion: Individuals facing substantial debts or financial problems might attempt pseudocide to escape creditors and debt collection efforts. By staging their own deaths and disappearing, they aim to start anew without their debts following them.
- Tax Evasion: Pseudocide can be used as part of a tax evasion strategy. Individuals may fake their deaths to avoid paying taxes, filing tax returns, or fulfilling other financial obligations.
Pseudocide is Illegal
Interestingly, pseudocide is illegal in most jurisdictions in itself, as it can lead to criminal charges, including fraud, identity theft, and making false statements. When individuals are caught attempting pseudocide, they may face legal consequences. Of course, scammers are by definition engaged in fraud, so this should come as no surprise.
As scammers use Pseudocide as a part of their strategies to scam their victims, it is important to avoid scams in the first place. However, with victims believing it will never happen to them, avoidance constantly fails.
Victims need to first be better informed about how these crimes work so they can more easily identify and discover when they are in a scam or fraud. Equally important is to recognize that anytime anyone asks for money the victim or potential victim must verify everything and trust nothing.