SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ ScammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. Urban Legends: Chapter 9 – Victims Are Stupid?
Actually, yes, scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims may have done something dumb, but they are almost never stupid!
In fact, the vast majority of romance scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims are above average intelligence
It’S Fair To Wonder, Who Falls For This Stuff?
“That’s the magic question,” asked Marti DeLiema, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Longevity who focuses on financial fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.. “The answer is, there’s no easy answer.” from an article in the Los Angeles Times.
She said researchers have found little correlation between a person’s age, or financial literacy and the likelihood of that same person being taken to the cleaners by con artists.
For example, it might be assumed that seniors are most easily fleeced because they’re so often targeted by fraudsters. But studies by the Federal Trade Commission have found that older consumers are less likely to be victimized than younger consumers, maybe because they’ve been around long enough to spot a pig in a poke.
Similarly, there are no firm conclusions to be drawn based on gender, race or education level.
“What we’ve found is that different types of fraud work on different profile types,” said Martha Deevy, director of the Center on Longevity’s Financial Security Division. “For instance, investment fraud works best on highly educated men, who think they’re too smart to be scammed.”
One problem with understanding the nature of fraud victims is that many people are embarrassed to report being ripped off, so it’s difficult to draw hard-and-fast conclusions from available data. Nor is it even clear how much financial fraud occurs in any given year.
It’s frequently estimated that between $40 billion and $50 billion worth of fraud is inflicted on U.S. consumers annually (though this may actually be off by an order of magnitude). But Deevy pointed out that jailed PonziPonzi A Ponzi Scheme is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from legitimate business activity (e.g., product sales or successful investments), and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors contribute new funds, and as long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they are purported to own. schemer Bernie Madoff was responsible for $50 billion worth of rip-offs all by himself.
So How Do Romance Scams Actually Work On People?
(Source Australian Broadcasting)
During the groomingGrooming Grooming is a form of setting up a victim for a scam or other crime by befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the victim, and sometimes the family, to lower the victim's inhibitions with the objective of the scam or criminal activity. Grooming includes the development of a trust relationship between the criminal and the victim, getting the victims to the point where they can be more completely manipulated. stage, the criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. works on eliciting a high level of trust to manipulate the victim into what the criminal terms the ‘ether state’. Note the word “Manipulate.”
This state is characterized by high oxytocin levels which are increased through ‘love bombing’; validating the victim, telling him or her how wonderful they are, sending love notes and love poems through the day and relentlessly, emotionally bombarding them with ‘love vibes’.
When the scammer has manipulated the victim into this state, they can start asking for money, often citing plausible (but at the same time, unusual) reasons, such as accidents, lost wallets or banking issues.
The victim is encouraged to keep messaging through the night, leading to sleep deprivation, which also has a detrimental effect on cognitive function.
The criminal will paint a vivid and highly potent picture of a future life together. Because the victim will want to believe everything the criminal says, they will employ selective thinking.
The victim will filter out any observations that run contrary to their belief in their love interest’s story. This is why it is so difficult for well-meaning friends or family members to convince the victim they are falling for a scammer.
Sex and lies
Visceral cues also have a powerful effect on behaviorBehavior Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. and victims tend to underestimate the potential influence on their own behaviors.
Sexual desire is a common visceral factor for romance scam victims who are often lured into conversations of a sexual nature and dreams of an intimate future relationship.
The stronger the ‘pull’ for sexual connection, the less a victim is aware of anomalies in the criminal’s story.
The ATOAccount Takeover Account Takeover (ATO) are the unauthorized access of a user’s account in order to steal identity credentials, execute a fraudulent transaction or engage in varying types of abuse. Scam
This scam relies on the scammer’s ability to send the victim into ‘amygdala hijackAmygdala Hijack Amygdala Hijack An amygdala hijack refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure (proportion) with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat or hormonal response. This can include: Anger, Sadness, Love, Desire, etc.’.
This is an evolutionary response to any threat to our safety and security. We are pre-wired for this response, which goes back to the days where we needed to avoid threats that would kill us.
Amygdala hijack shuts down the pre-frontal cortex, which is our rational, logical ‘executive function’ part of our brain. This causes us to act and not think.
There is a strong influence on the importance of taking immediate action. For example, during Tax scam, an individual is convinced by the criminal that if they do not make immediate payment, they will be arrested and incarcerated. Similarly, in a romance scam, the “lover” is always in peril – lost passports, being arrested, etc.
The fear response to this news causes amygdala hijack.
It Will All Be Worth It…
Once the victim starts parting with money they are susceptible to another psychological process called ‘induction of behavioral commitment’. This makes them more motivated to give more money in the belief they will get it all back.
Scammers ask the victim to make small steps of compliance to build trust and increase motivation through imagining the ‘size of the prize’. The victim feels committed to keeping sending money.
Fraudsters make sure the story of a better life through the relationship, or through lottery winnings, or inheritances, is vivid enough to strengthen the motivation and faulty decision making.
How Does It Feel To Be Scammed?
Victims are often so ashamed of falling victim that they are unwilling to share their story with others, leading them to internalize their shameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness..
This increases the negative effect of shame, which can then triggerTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. depression and PTSD.
Common feedback from scam victims runs along the lines of, “I feel so stupid”, “I can’t believe I fell for this”, and “I’m normally so careful”.
Victims also feel a lack of trust, both in themselves and in the community at large. They do not trust their own ability to discern right from wrong, or good from bad, increasing their feelings of vulnerability and emotional violation.
This is why it is important that victims seek professional advice from counselors or REAL registered crime victims’ assistance & support organizations (like SCARS RSN Division that is registered with the United States Department of Justice’s National Center for Victims of Crime) to help them work through their shame and grief.
No, scam victims are not stupid or idiots, they did a stupid thing to be sure but they were manipulated into that act.
Victims need to recognize the difference and adjust their future behaviors to prevent it from happening.
We hope you agree.
Please let us know what you think?
A SCARS Division
Miami Florida U.S.A.
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Tell us about your experiences with Romance Scammers in our Scams Discussion Forum on Facebook »
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. (www.IC3.gov)
- The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
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Visit our NEW Main SCARS Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.News.And.Information
To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org
Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
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