Fraudsters are oftentimes called scam artists for a reason. When they design their schemes, it is often done in such a brilliant way that it can manipulate even the smartest individuals.
The Fraud Game
Fraudsters are masters of gaining someone else’s trust. This important aspect of fraud allows them to execute their plans the way they want to once they’ve gained your confidence. Isn’t that a bit scary?
You see, the term con man originated from ‘confidence man’. It was coined more than 150 years ago when the New York Herald published a story about William Thompson’s arrest in 1849. William Thompson became famous for gaining the confidence of people he just met on the streets. Usually, he will talk to people and then ask them if they trust him enough to part with their watch until a day later. Watches are very expensive back in the day.
A Mind Game
A fraud scheme works with established confidence and trust. It is like a game with levels and for each level, the fraudster will collect more material. This way, the victim will be so manipulated in such a manner that they get themselves more committed and involved. This process fits the characteristics of ‘The Confidence Game’.
Author Maria Konnikova explained why we fall for the game. She says that expert fraudsters will let the victim think that the victim is in control and that they are the ones making decisions for themselves. What they fail to notice is that what they believe are their own decisions were actually manipulated by the fraudster to favour the scammer himself.
Below are the steps as enumerated in the book:
- The Put-Up – a victim is identified and profiled on what he/she wants and who he/she is so that they can be played to attain the fraudster’s goal.
- The Play – is when empathy and rapport have been established by the scammer. This emotional foundation is important later on.
- The Rope – the scammer persuades the victim using ‘logical’ reasons.
- The Tale – is when the fraudster proposes the scheme or introduces the scheme.
- The Convincer – the fraudster shows how he will benefit from the scheme.
- The Breakdown – fraudsters gets into the mind of the victim, thus the victim can’t extricate himself/herself from the situation.
- The Send – the victim gets so physically and emotionally invested that they themselves choose to go ‘all the way’ and will even involve themselves more.
- The Touch – when the victim becomes so lost at being totally fleeced, not immediately comprehending what happened.
- The Blow-Off – victim is so embarrassed for falling for the scheme that he/she oftentimes does not even need to be convinced to stay quiet.
The last step is the foremost reason why victims don’t report cases of fraud to the police. They feel foolish for letting themselves be gamed, feel afraid that they may be named an accomplice, or they feel bad for the fraudster for whatever make-believe reason. Sometimes the con man will tell the victim that they will be ‘exposed’ as well if they try to report the fraud.
If you’ve been a victim of fraud, don’t let the above stop you from righting what is wrong. Keep in mind that you are just one of the many victims of scams and fraud and the least you could do is try to stop others from being victimized as well.
Your report is crucial to stop the manipulative fraudster from hurting you or anyone else. Reach out to proper authorities or obtain the assistance of established private investigators in your area to set the story straight. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Haywood Hunt if you’re from around Toronto!