Scam Grooming: Finding Common Interests

Scammer Techniques & Methods

A SCARS Insight

Scammers Know How To Groom You! They Begin To Hook You With Common Interests

Scammers Know How To Start A Conversation With You And Spark A Friendship

From your religion, hobbies, a line of work, etc., they use everything against you to bend you to their will.

Once you accept their friend request or their connection, they will carefully scan information from your profile information and use it to start a conversation with you. It takes very little time before unsuspecting victims start divulging more information which the scammer uses to further the friendship or romantic relationship. In fact, some scammers will even adjust their social media profiles to adapt to the storyline, so they are an even better match for you.

Romance Scams Are Big Business

Scammers generally do not work alone. They are part of larger groups, sometimes numbering in the thousands. They have specialists for each stage of the scam, and hire professional writers to write scripts for them. In 2019 UK woman was jailed for writing such scamming scripts. You can find writers for very little money on platforms such as FIVERR

Some scammers don’t bother getting original content, so they lift such things as romantic poetry and verses from the Internet. And of course, they steal photos from real people to be the pace that lures in the victim.

Anti-Scam Tip – Did You Know?

Did you know that you can copy and paste the scammer messages (text) into Google to see if they have been used and reported before? You can easily check such content online to find out whether or not they are used over and over. However, even if you don’t find it, it does not mean they are NOT a scammer.

A simple rule: If you suspect something is wrong – IT IS! Stop Block and Report right then. Don’t waste your time trying to convince yourself they are real.

Each Person (Victim) Is Different

Every victim is a different person, though scammers try to reduce these differences by seeking out victims that fit particular characteristics. These include:

  • Widowed
  • Recently Divorced
  • Have Children
  • Have Pets
  • Are Very Busy With Work, or
  • Are Very Unoccupied
  • Have A Religious Affiliation
  • Have Had Tragedies In Their Past
  • Support Nonprofits & Charities

With just these and a few more attributes; a scammer can easily project commonalities with their victims. This is how the Scam Grooming Process begins.

It is important to always remember that scammers perfect their approaches by talking with thousands of similar victims. They have their pitches and scripts perfected based upon those that work and result in money. Every time a victim accepts a connection with a fraudster, the scammer learns. They learn even from their failures – this is exactly like telemarketing – the more they connect, the better they will be!

Scammers “Love” Widowers

People who have lost a loved one are especially vulnerable. They are walking wounds that in most cases are not healed or only partially. Scammers know how to reach through the screen and exploit these victims expertly. Scammers use stories of being a widow themselves to both lure in victims and to establish empathy. People who have lost someone understand the pain (fake though it is) that the scammer claims to have.

Widowers are usually lonely, they still carry grief, and frequently need to talk about what happened. Scammers begin gently and draw the story out, letting the victim supply the communication they need during this grooming phase. Once they get the victim talking, then 90% of the “hook” is set.

The Recently Divorced

Just like with Widowers, recently divorced people are usually full of residual pain and conflict. The divorce also disrupts their social or support circles in many ways, and victims are eager for support, confirmation, and just having a friendly ear to talk to. They will open up and share all the information a scammer needs.

Divorced people also often harbor feelings of anger, resentment, and guilt – especially when children are involved and scammers know how to exploit this. The more a scammer can get a victim to talk about those feelings, the more sympathetic they appear and the more likely they will be able to turn this into a relationship and control the victim.

Victims With Children

Scammers know that the key to grooming a victim is to get them projecting – their own wants and needs on the blank slate that is the scammer.

Everyone loves to talk about their children, either good or bad. All of it works for the scammer. As the victim talks, emotions flood to the surface (these are hormones) and scammers are experts at manipulating them.

Most parents, especially single parents, have challenges in their lives, and just having someone to listen to them is a great help. Being able to share situations and their daily lives is a perfect tool that scammers can use to wedge open the victims to be even more vulnerable to manipulation.

Additionally, fraudsters know that victims with children are more susceptible to blackmail and threats at the end of the scam. Scammers will use every word that a victim says against them – either during the grooming and manipulation phases, or later on when they are trying to get the last little bits of money from a victim.

Victims With Pets

A person that cares for pets – we do not mean breeders or owners of working animals –  is obviously a generous person. They are empathetic and probably kind. These are characteristics that scammers can and will exploit. Additionally, pets are also a very useful lure since pet owners are naturally attracted to other pet owners. We see this in the scammer’s use of stolen photos that show an animal. They use this as a way to both get the victim to lower their guard, but also to begin their conversations. Pet owners, like parents, love to talk about their babies.

Very Busy People

These are good candidates, especially if they have other characteristics from the list also. Busy people don’t have a lot of time to focus on extraneous things, so they tend to stay very focused both in the moment and in the other streams of thoughts flowing through their heads about work or other things they do. Busy people also tend to rely on their “gut” – which is often wrong – and both project and assume a lot. Thus they tend to buy the scammer’s story easily.

It is not until a mountain of evidence becomes obvious that they will tend to see reality, but when they do their reactions – in many cases – will allow the scammer to apply additional approaches for follow-on scams. One of those is to admit the truth and sometimes even show their real selves claiming that they fell in love with the victim. Fortunately, busy people tend to fall for that tactic less often.

Very Unoccupied Victims

People who are retired and not very active are especially vulnerable since they will also tend to be lonely.

Loney people have fewer friends and usually talk less with their families, making them more open to fantastical relationships with strangers. Scammers will employ different lures depending on the type of person. Loney people will tend to fall more for the fairy tale type of storylines, believing that the relationship is magical and that love and fortune await them. In these cases, scammers frequently mix romance and treasure/fortune scams into the scam con job.

People With A Religious Affiliation

People who are more religious can be lured in by a focus on faith. In the early days of online scams, scammers would always talk about how God-fearing they were, and mix in generous amounts of religious terms and phrases in their writing (though often it was Greeting Card level sayings). But religious victims tend to be generous, charitable, and by definition – believers!

Scammers working with these victims will tend to use biblical quotes to further reinforce the destiny or God’s plan that they meet and came together. They will also use this leverage to hold the victim and extract their money.

Victims That Have Had Tragedies In Their Past

Scammers look for any information that they can find about prospective victims. They pore over the victims’ social media to learn anything that will work. Past accidents and tragedies are a good source that can be spun into stories that lure victims in and hold them.

Car crashes are one of the most common, followed by some type of arrest. In the case of car crashes, scammers know that a huge number of people have also shared this experience, so they use it as a way to get the victims talking. Most people are very willing after they get started, to talk about their accidents. If they were traumatic, so much the better for the scammer since they can mine that for all its worth.

Arrests are not common but the scammers don’t need them to be, since everyone understands the horror and shock of being arrested. If the victim has ever been arrested then it is even easier – even if they were guilty of whatever the offense was, it doesn’t matter.

People That Support Nonprofits & Charities

If a person visibly supports a charity on their social media profiles, they are automatically a good target for a relationship scam. Generous people are always more willing to give money for causes they believe in, and after the scammer establishes a relationship with the victim – as the saying goes “Charity Starts At Home!” Scammers can leverage the caring victim to send large amounts of money and do it over longer periods of time.

Mixing And Matching

Of course, people are rarely one thing, and scammers know this. They look for any or all of these target types, and others as well, to formulate their stories. Unfortunately, most prospect victims share huge amounts of their personal information on social media, just waiting to be scammed.

It begins with the connection and initial lures and then develops during the grooming phase. Once the relationship is established, then manipulation shifts to holding the victim in place and obtaining money.

In each phase of the relationship scam, different techniques and approaches are used to deliver a result – just like in any form of sales & marketing. Scammers are not stupid, though they may be ignorant and unworldly, and if the victims were paying attention or not projecting and assuming they would see that. But scammers are professionals and they work what they have. They craftfully deploy and adapt their scripts based upon the target to achieve the best result.

Were You Groomed?

If you are reading this and you were a victim, we would like to hear your thoughts on this. Did you see examples of what we describe here? Which victim type were you?

We would love to hear about your experience either in a comment or if you would like to contact us directly and confidentially you can email us at

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U.S. FTC at and SCARS at
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