Internet Users Hbk - Chapter 5. Introduction to Internet Scams and Frauds
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Executive Review - Internet Users Handbook R513 - By Dr Don Yates Sr PhD
Remember this: it is easier to learn to recognize and avoid scams than it is to get your money back!
While the focus of our group will lie in a variety of Scams for Business Opportunities, Traffic, Advertising, Pay to Read Swindles, Data Entry, Make Money At Home schemes and such, but we must be aware of the others. Any scam that can be arranged offline through telephone, paper or in person can be found on the internet.
If you have an email account, for sure some of these schemes will find their way to your inbox or junk mail folders, even though they maybe unrelated to your primary online business interests. Therefore, it is important that you have some brief knowledge and awareness of the scheme.
So let us keep it simple and stick with a Master of the Power of Persuasion, and Persistence or follow-up (see spam), who appeal to our emotions get us to part with our money. I also like the use of words “Confidence Man” as they instill confidence in the minds of their victims. Read on
Damien Carrick: Now from secrets that get lifted from government, to how you and I sometimes inadvertently hand over information or money to con men. How do scammers manage to convince people to hand over their hard-earned cash?
To find the answer, perhaps we could talk to a police officer or a criminologist. But someone with a lateral take is magician Nicholas Johnson. He reckons that both magicians and scammers use the same box of tools: psychology and sleight of hand.
Nicholas Johnson: I think what I love most about con artists and the world of scammers is that they are criminals who manage to get their victims to hand over their possessions freely. Most thieves and robbers and the like, tend to use force, or deception, in order for them to take things, whereas a con artist manages to get their victims to freely give up their stuff. And I think that is what really fascinates me the most.
Damien Carrick: What makes people susceptible to con men?
Nicholas Johnson: The main thing that really makes people susceptible to con artists is the idea that we are going to get something for nothing. Therefore, it really buys into our greed. It buys into sometimes our lust, and at the same time, sometimes even our sense that we are going to do something good. So we're going to get a great feeling from helping someone out, we're going to make some money, we're going to meet a beautiful girl—it really ties into our basest desires, and that's what the con artist relies on.
There was a study done in the UK just in train stations. They would go up to people and ask them to do a survey, and said 'If you could just answer these ten questions, we will give you a free pen at the end.'
And one of the questions was 'What is your security number?' your PIN, or your email number and so on. In addition, a whopping percentage of people were more than happy to hand over that information to a complete stranger in a train station, in exchange for a free pen, because the person looked like they were official.
Damien Carrick: Not much of a bargain.
Nicholas Johnson: Not much of a bargain, no, it was a nice pen, though.
[On stage: I think it is important that if you are going to be a con artist that you learn how to lie to people. So what I thought we should do is actually bring up here on the stage some of the best liars in the room and see whether we can spot who's really good at it, and who's really bad at it. So I am just going to have a look. Just by looking at people who here looks as if they may be a good liar. So we are looking for people with sort of cold, dead eyes, the kind of people who would just stab you for your Metlink card. Oh, right there, brilliant, fantastic. Come up, and give him a big round of applause. Fantastic ...]
Most con artists rely on this idea that the victim is in control. The victim is the one who is controlling the situation. So a great example of that is the classic Nigerian email scam, the person who writes to you and says, 'I've got this money that I need to get out of the country, and I need your help.'
So you are in control, you can help them, you can do a good deed, you can make some money, you have got this fantastic opportunity, and the con artist needs your help. It is not the con artist doing you a favor. So really, you feel like you are the one who is controlling the situation when really it is the con artist who knows the real deal.
On stage: That is a good guess that is a very good guess, but it is not a correct guess, you owe me $2. No, no, no, we will settle up at the end of the night that is fine.
OK? What you really should have done is to actually bet on this one over here, but it's completely up to you whether you want to call me a liar and bet over here or whether you want to go with my choice, which is right there. So what is it going to be? Are you going to bet there, or are you going to bet there? Am I telling the truth, or am I lying? OK, you do realize I am a con man, that is $4 you owe me, OK, it is actually right there.]
Damien Carrick: Now you cut your teeth around carnival people and circus people, but have you also spoken to, or learned skills from the Real McCoy, the actual con men, the actual criminals?
Nicholas Johnson: Yes, I think the real con artists are the people who can really teach you the most. You can read books about it, you can talk to people who have had experience, the victims, but unless you can really get inside the mind of a con artist, you really will not ever understand exactly how it works.
I've communicated a lot with some of the Nigerian scammers, the people who write those emails, because if they think maybe they're going to make a few dollars, they're always happy to spill the beans. And it is amazing that most of those people see it as a legitimate job. For them it is a bit like being a telemarketer, they are just working in an office, in a cubicle, sending out emails, trying to get leads just like a salesperson.
Damien Carrick: And they were happy to have an email dialogue with you?
Nicholas Johnson: They were, yes, but obviously they were fairly cagey about exact details of who they were and what they were doing, but I was surprised, many of them admitted that they were working for organized crime figures and organizations in their home country of Nigeria. Many of them were quite happy to say that they worked on commission and they made a bit of money based on how much money they brought in, and they were quite upfront about it. I think for a lot of con artists they are very proud of their work, and they like people to know exactly what they have gotten away with.
Nicholas Johnson: Yes, it is interesting the justifications that con artists use. Some say it is a job, just like any other, 'I'm no different from a used car salesman, I'm selling a dream instead of selling a car.' So I like that one. The other explanation is, 'You can't con an honest man.' Now that is this idea that because you are buying into people's greed and their gluttony and their lust and so on, that those people are guilty. The victim is just as guilty as the con artist, and therefore they get what's coming to them.' Of course we know that is just not true and that it is really just an excuse that they are using.
Damien Carrick: Tell me about some of these short cons that the Australian people that you have spoken to engage in.
Nicholas Johnson: Sure. My all-time favorite one only makes the con artist a few dollars every time he does it, but I absolutely love it.
These guys used to go door-to-door in the 1970s selling light bulbs and they would offer to replace every single light bulb in your house, so all your old light bulbs would be replaced with a brand new light bulb, and it would cost you, say $5, so a fraction of the cost of what new light bulbs would cost. So the man comes in, he replaces each light bulb, every single one in the house, and does it, you can check, and they all work, and then he takes all the light bulbs that he's just taken from the person's house, goes next door and then sells them the same light bulbs again. So it is really just moving light bulbs from one house to another and charging people a fee to do it.
But there are all sorts of those homemaker scams, people offering to seal your roof so they say, 'We'll put a fresh coat of tar on your roof', or 'We'll re-seal your driveway'. In actual fact, all they do is get old black sump oil and smooth it over the roof or smooth it over the driveway. You come home and it looks like wet tar, and so 'Don't step on it for 24 hours', and of course, 24 hours later, they are long gone with the money, and you are left with a sticky, smelly driveway.
Damien Carrick: You have spoken to some of the con artists. Have you ever spoken to any of the victims?
Nicholas Johnson: I have. I have spoken to a lot of victims. I get a lot of emails from victims and for me, I really love the world of the con artist and I have a real grudging respect for what they do, and I love hearing the stories.
But hearing from the victims, you really realize that these scams have a real financial and emotional impact on the people involved. I spoke to a man just the other day who'd lost $5,000 investing in what he thought was an internet marketing company, and it was just a scam, it was basically an American-based pyramid scheme where the only way you make money is of course to try and convince other people to sign up to the scam.
And he was absolutely heartbroken. He could afford to lose the money, for him it was only a few thousand dollars, but it wasn't that he lost the money that upset him so much, it was the fact that he really lost control, that he thought he was in control of what was going on, and that he really felt like that he couldn't trust the internet, couldn't trust other people making particular offers to him, that he couldn't really trust himself and his decision-making abilities. And that's really I think for a lot of people, where they feel the hardest hit.
[On stage: All right, so we are going to bet them. Here we go. You bet $1 and then I see your dollar and raise $10, then you bet $10 I bet $100, and then I bet $1,000, then it will be your shoes, I bet my jacket, you bet your wife, I bet my first-born child.
We put everything we own on the table, I reach into my pocket, put my last dollar down on the table and call, what do you have?' Two sixes.
Yes, I think I have you beat, because I have one, two, three, four, five, six of a kind. Six kings, ladies and gentlemen. Give him a big round of applause though anyway. Thank you very much for playing. Thank you.]
Damien Carrick: When I saw your show the other night, you hammered a nail up your nostril and it was horrible, it was funny, and it was compelling. And how common are scams involving that kind of physical illusion, and what kinds of motivations do they have?
Nicholas Johnson: Sure. What you're referring to there is what they call 'psychic surgery', so you'll see photographs of people and video of people reaching inside somebody's stomach, blood spurting everywhere, they'll pull out a tumor which they'll throw into a bowl, wave their hands over the person's stomach and they're instantly as good as new and restored with absolutely no cut whatsoever. Or in the case of the nail in the head, they will get a nail and actually hammer it into somebody's face, just below the nostrils, that is sticking out horizontal. You maybe get a pair of forceps and sort of force them in there and pretend to pull something out, and these kind of gruesome, disgusting displays are so compelling to watch and so intense to experience that people feel that it must be doing you some good, it must be medical and it must be worth paying for. And sadly, lots of people hand over cash for these bogus operations. ABC.NET.AU/Law Report
- You need money now, so they promise you cash in 24 hours, even 3 hours or less.
- You are a retired senior citizen and you need more residual income to supplement your retirement so they take your money and promise you the future.
- They tell you how to make a million dollars, if you only recruit three or more people. You never have to do anything else. They do not tell you how hard it can be to get three or more people when you are just starting internet journey.
- You are a single parent mom and can barely make ends meet: They offer you work- at-home jobs paying you $100 per hour or $500 a day, or anything that gets your interest and motivated all this for $ 49.95. What can be better? I can stay home with the kids, work in my nightgown or whatever and still make money.
But consider this:
How many people in the real world make that much per hour or per month?
- Does it make sense – of course not, then why should you or anyone else believe it?
- How about: Everything is on autopilot; Do nothing and make money
- Or we fall in love with a picture, and send money.
- How about I give $20,000 just to read one email?
- Let’s see, what have we missed; oh yes,
- If you are not satisfied or you are worried about losing your money:
- Not to worry,
- Let me offer you an unconditional guarantee;
- Or how about I will double your money back. (Who, What, Where, When and HOW)
A greedy or dishonest mark may attempt to out-cheat the con artist, only to discover that he or she has been manipulated into losing from the very beginning. Wikipedia
The high value reward (often life-changing, medically, financially, emotionally or physically) that scam victims thought they could get by responding, makes the money to be paid look rather small by comparison.
...scam victims report that they put more cognitive effort into analyzing scam content than non-victims. This contradicts the intuitive suggestion that people fall victim to scams because they invest too little cognitive energy in investigating their content, and thus overlook potential information that might betray the scam. This may reflect, however, the victim being 'drawn in' to the scam whilst non-victims include many people who discard scams without giving them a second glance. Schneier on Security
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Executive Review - Internet Users Handbook R513 - By Dr Don Yates Sr PhD
About the Author: Dr Don Yates Sr PhD
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