Nigerian Prince scams continue to dupe people

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https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/why-do-people-still-fall-for-phone-scam-nigerian-prince-10598882

By Frank T McAndrew
22 Aug 2018 06:45AM

We make easy prey for scams that seem like a thing of the past, even though the world has become more advanced and sophisticated, says one observer at Knox College.

GALESBURG, Illinois: With cryptocurrency fraud and tax scams making headlines, I had thought Nigerian email schemes were a thing of the past, akin to the bygone days when a scammer might offer to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

So I was surprised to recently come across an article about a 62-year-old Swedish divorcee named Maria Grette. She had set up a dating profile and soon received a message from a 58-year-old Danish man named Johnny who was working as an engineer in the United States....


EASY TARGETS

Reporter Erika Eichelberger spent time with Nigerian scam artists in 2014. She found them to be surprisingly forthcoming.

She reported that most scammers tended to be ordinary people, such as university students or people working low-paying jobs, who discovered that they could make fabulously more money – as much as US$60,000 per year – scamming.

In most cases, after establishing a connection and cultivating a relationship, the scammers eventually get around to persuading their targets to provide their bank account or credit card information. They prefer to pursue 45 to 75-year-old widowed men and women. The thinking goes that this demographic is most likely to have money and be lonely – in other words, easy marks....


SMALL FAVOURS

Then there are the scammers’ methods. They utilise the foot-in-the-door technique – a small, innocuous request – to draw their targets in, perhaps something as simple as asking for advice about what to see on vacation in the target’s home country.

When victims acquiesce, they begin to perceive themselves as someone who provides help. Through a series of baby steps, they move from doing small favours that cost little to giving away the store.

Studies have shown that once people publicly commit themselves to a course of action, they’re unlikely to reverse course even when the circumstances change. Other studies have shown that people seem to have an irresistible urge to escalate commitments to bad decisions.

Changing course is cognitively difficult because not only is it an admission of a bad decision, it also means giving up any hope of recouping our losses. So once someone invests money into something risky – whether it’s a pyramid scheme or a day at the casino – they may keep throwing good money after bad because it seems like the only way to get anything back....
 
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