Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, May 15, 2020

How Con Artists Choose Their Victims

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.

The chosen
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:

Who can be Scam victims:

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
  1. Many don't know where to turn, so they don't file a report anywhere.
  2. Many are so distraught that they contact every agency they can think of, which has no effect at all.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Many have gone to law enforcement only to not be believed or told it was THEIR FAULT.
  6. 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

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shared by Barbara at 12:06 AM



From "The Sociopath Next Door" Martha Stout describes four traits that help identify a sociopath/psychopath (things that they try to get you to believe): 1)We're the same 2)Keep my secrets 3)You owe me 4)Woe is me (the pity play). Once you're attuned to this, you will be amazed at how many people display these traits.

Another trait? They make mountains out of molehills and molehills out of mountains. They will imply or outright say that you need to act NOW! to get the best deal etc and so induce panic and fear. Or, they may say that THEY need something from you like money etc. even though you've set it aside for your retirement or to help a friend, they will insist that THEY are much more in need and once you give it to them, you will see that it was not only wasted but that they have no memory that you sacrificed something and as a result took a loss. In their mind if they DO remember anything about it, it was that you were LUCKY to help them and it was the LEAST YOU COULD DO! (They really believe that they are God.)

From the book "Behind the Hedge" by Waneta Dawn. The father is trying to manipulate his children into doing what he wants: "They sat in silence while he piled their bowls with ice cream (bribery) and considered how to begin. He'd play down their decision to leave (molehills out of mountains), overstate the rest (mountains out of molehills), and be his most friendly self so they'd feel guilty (pity play) for hurting him. He'd use that old salesman trick and get Kyle to ANSWER YES TO EVERYTHING. Kyle would agree to stay and then persuade Tanya (uses others to do the dirty work). With a plan like that, he couldn't lose." Pg. 240. By the way, he does lose.

7:41 PM  

Yes I was taken to the cleaners. He is a master of manipulation. I did a background check and he uses three aliases. He gains your confidence and then has you move in. Then he subtly abuses you emotionally, verbally, and physically. Then he starts fights and drama so he can con you out of more money. In public he displays affection and acts very sweet. Behind closed doors he later became a monster! He has a new mark that he's already working on. He is the boss and of you don't obey there will be threats! He isolated me from everyone. He is tall 6'2 about 200 pounds and he lives LA. He has one brother and his parents lie for him also.

11:19 AM  


Thank you so much for posting information online about Con artists and abusers. I am a daughter in mourning for my father who is being abused by a con artist. I believe he has the onset of vascular dementia. He has a woman contacting him everyday, promising him millions (some billions of dollars) and he believes her. She sends text messages, calls everyday and manipulates him in every way.

My father has signs of vascular dementia or alzheimer's disease. I have contacted him G.P, but he is refusing to go to visit him as he is paranoid that myself or his family members are trying to put him in a nursing home or 'commit him' The G.P also is concerned that he has a cognitive impairment and would like to make referrals for a CAT scan, psychologist and put him on early onset dementia medication.

My father is 76 and has now given half of his superannuation money away to this evil, manipulative woman. She has manipulated him to believe that the millions are coming. He does not believe me, his wife of 48 years (my mother) or any of his other three children. I have called the police, Scam Watch, the Guardianship Tribunal, and now I am just really lost. What can I do?!

I would appreciate any guidance during this extremely stressful time.

Thank you x

9:02 AM  

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