That is part of the reason why fraudsters can repeat their crimes over and over again with impunity. It’s easy to find new marks, dupes, and targets when no one knows you’re coming.
There’s a feeling of shame that comes with having been scammed. Begin gullible isn’t considered a desirable trait.
Con men and con women con people because they believe they can get away with it.
For most of us, the idea of preying on another’s weaknesses, gullibility or naivete is revolting. But for those few who make their way through life doing this, the feelings associated with manipulating and taking advantage are either repressed, so much so that over time, no negative feelings are felt, or they take pleasure in it. It strokes the con-man’s ego to think “look how much smarter I am than the person I scammed.”
Are Scammers Sociopaths?
Generally, they have to have sociopathic traits in order to do this. Sometimes, however, they are simply desperate (for money, usually), and squash any feelings of guilt they may have over hurting others. Or they talk themselves into believing that what they do doesn’t hurt.
In many cases, they can be classified as sociopaths.
You may think it’s not likely that you would ever fall victim to a con, but you might be surprised to know how easy it could be, especially online.
Today, more than ever, there are opportunities to connect with like-minded people, create mutually supportive networks, and make new friends. The online world can be a hugely positive force. Like anything that offers powerful change, though, the online world can also be a force for the negative. It’s a natural habitat for the scam artist.
They can read about you on Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog, and so on and learn what you do, who you work with, who your friends are. Diligent online research can show them your likes and dislikes, your dreams and hopes. They can know more about you in a short time, and connect to you through social media quite easily.
People who want to, can try and exploit your weaknesses, desires, or even your strengths. Today, unless you are a mega-celebrity or politician, you are generally easily to contact. You have to be that way if you want career opportunities and to network with colleagues. But it can also make you vulnerable.
If someone approaches you with a deal that sounds too good to be true—it is probably too good to be true.
If someone jumps into an online relationship with you and assumes a level of intimacy that is intense (without a longer-term real-life relationship)—be wary.
They can be so smooth. They can inveigle themselves into your life, your hopes, and dreams, because they study you through your online presence. Their lies are virtually imperceptible.
How do I know?
Two people I know were almost scammed last year, and one of them was me.
Recently, someone tried to con me into a business scheme, playing to my professional qualifications. Fortunately, I felt something was off during an initial phone meeting and nipped any further meetings in the bud. At the same time, I told a coworker about what happened and she researched him. We realized then—I was the target of, and almost the victim of, an elaborate con.
Just as a scam artist can research you online, he knows you might research him, especially if he’s coming at you with a business or other proposal. He can set up misleading profiles on professional networks. He can create and publish a web site or blog in minutes, and purchase a domain name in seconds. He can respond to emails or messages with links that he created moments before, because he knows that even today, most people reflexively believe anything in print and/or that looks professionally published, online or off.
I’ve told anyone I know whom I think might be a target about my experience. And now I’m sharing my cautionary tale with you. Protect yourself, especially online.