Last week I was once again reminded that if you have dreams and are willing to believe and do just a tiny bit of work somebody will be there to take advantage of you and make it go horribly wrong. They are called scammers or con artists and they have been around since the first caveman promised another caveman one thousand pounds of mammoth meat if they would just leave a tiny bit of berries by the rock near the river. The mammoth meat never came but somebody got a lot of berries.
Fortunately, I have not been victimized by scams that have done any real harm or hardship to me but because of my radio show I am certainly familiar with plenty of people who have been devastated by scams.
A scammer looks for vulnerability, naivete, and desire. Is somebody a bit desperate, are they uninformed about the endeavor they are about to embark on, and do they have the desire to change the situation. Put those together and you are a scammers dream. For instance romance scams prey on lonely people who may be handicapped, isolated, or in a fragile emotional state. They pose as soldiers or people in far- away lands. Their mark will not know much about military regulations or the laws of these foreign countries. Their mark will want love and companionship. The scammer will offer this. They will never really deliver it but they will take money in the process. The mark will send money because the person they love (the scammer) needs it and once the scammer’s situation improves with the aid of a little money they will live together happily ever after. We know it doesn’t turn out that way. More often than not we have a scammer with ill gotten money and gifts and a heart broken mark who does not know what happened. Keep in mind the mark may have had questions and doubts along the way. They may have talked to other people who warned them that something is not right. The scammer always had answers so it passed. Mostly because the mark wanted to believe. Needed to believe. Worse yet, they may confide in somebody about what happened and that person may judge them and wonder how they could be so foolish. This makes the mark feel worse.
There was recently a crypto currency, Bit Connect, that went through a similar process. The pushers of Bit Connect promised lots of money. It was guaranteed! They showed a lavish life style and bragged about how much money they were making. They showed off their “wallet” or Bit Connect statement. The money just kept on going up. All for minimal work. Best of all they were willing to share this lifestyle with you if you would just invest some money and use their referral code. How kind of them. But how could they promise so much money so easily? They had a bot that knew how to make trades. Nobody saw the bot but it surely had to exist. Well there are enough people who want easy money. More importantly there are enough people that do not understand crypto currency and investments. And of course there are people who will gladly take advantage of this. Sprinkle in some charisma by the scammers and you are well on your way to a full fledged scam. In this case a Ponzi Scheme. So like the romance scam you have victims left in the wake. Some claiming they lost their life savings. You have the con artists walking away with ill gotten money while smiling and saying don’t blame me. It will be ok. And like a romance scammer, if possible they are maintaining contact with their victims and preparing them for the next scam. Because in this world it is never the scammer’s fault. It is outside forces or bad luck. We are all just victims of circumstance. Stick with me and we’ll get it all balk. The marks never get it back. The scammers just come up with a new scam.
The reality is if it seems too good to be true then it is. You need to be intellectually curious to protect yourself and not just throw your trust in with some random person. Any con artist’s Achilles heel is an educated public. Ask questions. Do research. Your situation can change but chances are it will be because you made it change.