Anatomy of a Scam

Scammers use various tactics, including deceit, coercion, intimidation, emotional abuse, undue influence and empty promises.

While anybody can be a victim of a scam, certain vulnerable populations are more likely to be targeted by scammers, such as: seniors; consumers overburdened with debt; people with limited English-language proficiency; and, consumers with limited education.

Con artists often use emotional ploys to make the consumer feel that he/she is part of a special group receiving a "once in a lifetime deal." Some scammers gain trust and confidence through their charisma, or get their victims to let their guard down by using a business name similar to that of a well-known, highly successful company. Others create a sense of urgency that puts pressure on the victim to make an immediate decision.

Some tools of persuasion used by scammers include:

Authority Power
A scammer may claim that an investment opportunity has been reviewed by "the Federal Reserve Bank" or the "New York State Banking Department."

A scammer attempts to quickly build a trusting relationship with the victim. For example, the con artist may talk about the local community to earn trust.

The notion that a consumer should buy a product that has been reduced in price because the consumer is getting a "great deal" in contast to the regular deal. Many scammers will simply inflate the "regular" price of the product and then "reduce" it to the regular price, calling it a "rare discount."


Last Modified: July 12, 2010