Five Tactics Scammers Use to Perpetrate Fraud

According to Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, scammers weaponize universal human instincts such as fear of loss, love, and trust in others. They rely on manipulations to get you to give what they’re looking for, money or your identity. Here are five tactics scammers use to perpetrate fraud.

  1. Establish Trust
    1. Scammers will try to find as much information as possible to try and build trust. Once trust is built, defenses tend to be lowered, and scammers find it easier to get their target to follow their lead. Always be cautious speaking with someone you’ve never met, and never send them money, no matter how much they ask.
  2. Create a Sense of Urgency
    1. It’s a human tendency to fear missing out, especially when money is involved. Scammers play on that tendency and always create a sense of urgency to get you to act without thinking. If something seems too good to be true, it typically is. Before acting on the urgent request, stop, think, and speak with someone you trust about the request.
  3. They Flatter You
    1. Scammers frequently praise their victims, leading to a sense of connection and trust. It may seem flattering, but it’s another way they’re trying to gain access to your financial accounts or personal information.
  4. They Try to Get You to Act Without Thinking
    1. Scammers can do this in many ways, like making up elaborate stories. Examples may include a story about one of your family members being in trouble, your bank account being compromised, or even presenting themselves as a feared authority. These stories are part of a scheme to make you act without thinking.
  5. They Try to Seduce You
    1. Romance scams can happen on any online platform. They occur when a scammer adopts a fake online profile and seduces a victim to gain affection or trust. These scammers typically say they’re in the construction industry or living overseas and always make an excuse why they can’t meet in person. If your online love interest is asking for your personal or bank account information, they’re likely a fraudster.

If you believe a scammer is pursuing you, stay calm and do not continue conversing with them. Stop all contact with them and contact someone you trust. Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and, if necessary, your local police department.