From the Powerful to the Powerless: No one is immune from a good scammer.
How you are chosen and manipulated
Those whose job it is to fight fraud every day know that no one is immune to fraud, and that there are only 3 kinds of people in the world: those who have been scammed and know it; those who have been scammed and don't know; and those who haven't been scammed yet. In fact, what is an obvious scam to one person looks like a great opportunity to another; and vice versa.
From the National White Collar Crime Center: Only 7% of scam victims contact an enforcement agency
Why don't more victims report fraud crimes? Because con artists are masters at instilling a sense of fear, shame, and guilt in their victims.
They are masters of domination and intimidation, artfully weaving them into their script. And... they are masters at qualifying their prey.
Con artists choose you very carefully. They are only interested in those people who can be turned around to believe in them without question, who can be manipulated to believe in their illusions. They don't merely seek out the greedy or the weak or the stupid. Not at all. They seek out the needy. They sniff and snuffle around until they find someone who has an unfulfilled desire that even you yourself may be unaware of until the carrot is dangled in front of your face.
Con artists will stalk anyone whose weaknesses or strengths can be used to advantage. Scan through the character traits below, and you will see the con artist's menu. As far as he is concerned any character trait can be exploited and manipulated once your needs have been established. No one is immune.
Character Traits of Victims:
- any trait will do.
Who can be Scam victims:
- Law Enforcement Officers,
- Single Moms,
- Sports Figures,
- Blue Collar Workers,
- Physically Challenged,
- Corporate Executives,
- Insurance Agents,
- Real Estate Agents,
- ... You name it!
Right from the start
From the very moment a con artist targets you, his entire arsenal of psychological manipulation is brought into play. You are moved from a position of control to one of no control over anything at all. The con artist moves into the position of supreme power, regardless of how powerful you may be in real life.
How can this be? Because you are the only character in the play who hasn't a clue as to what is really happening. No one has given you a script to follow. The only choice given you is to react to what the other players are saying and doing.
Reality is gone, you just doesn't know it - your real world has been completely and effectively replaced with that of the con artist and his cronies. Smoke and mirrors.
You know the game is over when he starts using fear tactics to keep you off balance.
Shame, guilt, and fear
Once a con artist has completed his scam, he will yank the rug out from under you. Suddenly, without warning, you have to come to terms with the fact that you have been taken to the cleaners.
—The effect is devastating - it was planned to be —
From the very start of a scam you are kept just slightly off balance so that you feel you must cling to the con artist for support. During the entire manipulation, you are being emotionally positioned so that when the con artist disappears, you will feel as if you have pushed off a merry-go-round. In effect, you were.
You are suddenly left without the rudder in whom you believed with all your heart. To admit you were wrong can be emotionally shattering. You are left reeling and alone with that voice inside your head yelling, "What have I done?!"
Dignity and self-esteem are gone, replaced with shame, guilt, embarrassment, and anger (usually self-directed). You think I'm going overboard with this description? Not really. Not only have I been there, but I get letters from victims every day and that's exactly how they all feel.
Why victims don't report fraud
- Many don't know where to turn, so they don't file a report anywhere.
- Many are so distraught that they contact every agency they can think of, which has no effect at all.
- Many are extremely upset when they try to talk to law enforcement, end up merely sounding hysterical, no clear story emerges, and they give up without having given the police anything to go on.
- Many have been threatened in one way or another by the scammer and are afraid of retribution from either the con artist himself or law enforcement.
- Many have gone to law enforcement only to not be believed or told it was THEIR FAULT.
- And finally, the majority feel themselves to be damn fools and are not about to make it worse by going public. They just can't bring themselves to admit they've made a mistake. They cannot bring themselves to admit that they have been set up by a scammer.
The 10 STEPS all con artists use to set up their victims:
Although script variations are infinite, the basic plot never changes. The best description is found in The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David W. Maurer (page 4).
Edited for Romance/ Psychological Scams:
1. Locating and investigating you, the potential victim, called a 'mark' or a 'target'.
2. Gaining your confidence
3. Steering you (luring, brainwashing, manipulation)
4. Saying 'you're the one/ their soulmate'; they want to 'marry you' (some actually do marry their marks and never stay faithful); offering to 'take care of you.'
5. Determining exactly how much you will give to the relationship (money, sex, emotional investment, etc)
6. Playing games to make SURE you are 'willing'
7. Playing you ("I'm so confused" or "I'm not sure" or "I think you deserve better than me")
8. Making great shows of affection - often publicly (buying you a ring (often a worthless ring), public proposals, flowers to your office, etc.
9. Cheating on you or disappearing while they set up the next mark
10. Forestalling action by law enforcement [by making you promises and by threatening you - reporting you as a 'stalker' or 'harasser' or calling Child Services or Animal Control on you, etc.]
with thanks to FraudAid.com
Labels: brainwashing, con artist, emotional blackmail, fraud, guilt, romance, scammer, shame, threats