When I study a scam I try to understand why and how the scam works. I’m not talking about the part where you send them the money. I’m talking about the part where the scammer convinces you to trust them. Over the last few weeks, I have noted scammers using techniques I call “False Evidence”
What is False Evadence?
These are simple bits of false evidence the scammers will mix into the conversation, chat or website that makes you think “Maybe they are telling the truth”. This could be from showing you a pile of cash, false documents, cars or a scary error message that in reality means nothing. For some people, this is obvious … for others it’s the bait for the hook that is already in their mouths. The scammer is just waiting for them to bite down.
By nature, we are hopeful and trusting species. Even those folks who are always yelling at you to get off their lawn trust, someone and want to trust someone. So by default, our brains are looking for reasons to trust. (We would have never got out of the stone age otherwise)
So when we encounter false evidence our brain can sometimes say “YEP THIS WORKS It is legit”!! Especially when we want it to be true. Our brain tries to find evidence as to why this is real. And this is the trap as confirmation bias kicks in and these fake details start to pile up one at a time.
While we think that nobody would take the time to come up with a story with that much detail. (That is the actual the trap) .. let me tell you they do…. and a lot more than you are expecting.
Let’s look at False Evadence examples.
These are some of the more obvious examples. If you are laughing at them GOOD! However, understand that a loved one may not see them as an obvious scam.
OH look a cute puppy!!!
This was a lonely hearts scammer who contacted me pretending to be looking to buy a Puppy! So take a moment and read the text. If I had a puppy to sell why are they showing me the picture of the puppy? Wouldn’t I be the one with the pictures of the puppy?
So what was the point of this picture? To disarm me. Who can be angry when looking at a puppy? “Obviously not a scammer because they have a puppy. (Don’t get me started on puppy scams)
In this case a romance scam the goal was to make it so I was not suspicious of them. Why would I not want to have an attractive girlfriend who likes puppies? Romance scammers are all about building the relationship By showing that they have an innocent puppy we are less likely to think they’re some kind of Porn bot.
Pictures of Cash and Cars?
This is very popular with scammers. They love to show pictures of cash and cars! Why? Because many of us would love to own it. But let’s think about this one.
In this case, a friend of mine was approached by a SugarDaddy scammer . his goal was to convince my friend to give her payment details so he could send her lots of money.
In a previous post, I show how easy it is for scammers to show money they do not have.
Let’s think about it … how long would it take you to create this kind of image and send it to someone. So a trip to the car lot with a big bow. and a stack of green paper of monopoly money. … and that is assuming that we leave our house.. just doing a google search of “Pictures of money” comes up with similar results.
Small details … that mean nothing
In the example above the scammer also mentions a name of a person. While for most of us, not a big deal … but someone who REALLY REALLY wants this to be true may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We like to assume that someone who has a lot of details is telling the truth. After all, that is what detective TV shows do .. they look at all the details! unfortunately, it is a trick our minds play on us.
Looking at the optical illusion below we can see how our minds play tricks by drawing lines between objects. The same goes for a mark who REALLY wants to have this deal that is too good to be true to be real!
But who falls for this? … you would be suprised.
Some folks fall for this over and over again
I’m in a few Facebook groups dedicated to scams. There are many folks who fall for it over and over again.
While some of the members of these scam reporting groups tend to report once and then are never seen again. There are some folks who post on a regular basis. While I’m not sure if this is to get the attention of others. Or if it is another form of scam.
but it is not unheard of to have people fall for different forms of a scam over and over again It happens so often that con artists will often share or sell lists of former victims to other con artists.
How do you protect yourself vs false evadence?
There are many ways to protect yourself from scammers. Be a bit sceptical when things are looking too good or too bad.
Ask yourself WHY me?
This is always a good question to ask yourself. My first encounter with a scam was when I was 25. I was lucky to ask myself “Why me” ..while I was a decent artist the con artist seemed to be too enthusiastic to make me very rich. What saved me was asking “Why me?”
If something does not make sense then there is a good chance it is a scam.
Have someone else look at the “evenadence”
This is a big one. When things are looking too good or too bad you need to have someone you trust to look at the evidence that the scammer is providing. Ask them “Do you think this is real?”
Sometimes we are too close and need a second opinion. A new set of eyes tends to help you spot a scam.
Displays of wealth are a red flag.
In my time I have met a few very rich people. I can tell you for the most part they are very quiet about their money. Most you would never know are that rich. Why would they show you a pile of money? Why would they show you a new car? IF they are that rich they would not need to prove it to you. Think of the top 10 richest people you see on TV. Do they show piles of their cash? Almost never. You might hear about their new car but most of the time it is an ad from the car company.