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  • Misdirection, Smoke, and Mirrors – How Scammers Can Play You

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We all like to think we’re smart enough to avoid scams. The reality is that for every ten of us confident in our ability to tell truth from lies, one of us will be suckered into a scam or a con. Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch would like to pry back the wool on some of the dirtiest, sleaziest, and above all most effective ways scammers are getting Ontario residents on a daily basis.

Greed Is The First Thing Scammers Play On

It’s uncomfortable to admit, but at heart we are greedy individuals. Partly due to a need to amass more resources for safety and security, and partly because we’ve been raised in an aggressively consumerist culture – we are very greedy people. It’s alright to admit this, and it’s essential if you want to be aware of the first and foremost sleazy technique that scammers have in their employ – they go after your greediest tendencies.

This is the realm where you start to hear scammers throw around words like “free”, “easy”, “no risk”, and talk about money that ranged from offering you hundreds to thousands of dollars. The kicker is these scams often come with the promise of doing very little work.

And as scams go, the basis on playing on your greed is the most popular. From the famous Nigerian 401 scams, which promise millions if you forward a small administrative fee to 4X trading scams which cost upwards of five grand and can bankrupt you in record time – almost every scam plays on our desire to get more and do less. While your initial lust for cash might blind you to the obvious, you can still recognize this fact when someone makes a promise that parks your ears up.

The Jones Effect – The Sales Tactic Everyone Uses

The Jones effect is possibly the most well known sales tactic used today. And while every salesperson who’s ever lived has used it at one point, how frequently or strongly its used can separate a common seller from a scammer.

The Jones Effect is simple – the user just compares you to your neighbors or peers and connects it to the service. Saying that an item is popular, that you helped Mrs Jones next door, that everyone is using this service, and so on. It’s a startlingly popular tactic because of what’s known as the herd tendency – our propensity to follow the leader and be led by current trends.

And while trends can inform our purchases in a constructive way, they can also lead us to making hasty impulse decisions without thinking. And once a scammer has planted the seeds of impulse in your head, you’re far more likely to fall prey to a scam.

They’ll Convince You Its Too Late To Stop

Part of what makes the most vicious scams work is that they reinforce you to continue being scammed. Yes, it’s difficult to grasp that, as someone being scammed, you have control over a scam. And that’s precisely where a scammer wants to keep you until you’re no longer of value to them.

The promise of later value, or the promise that the damage can be done if you only continue is a way scammers keep their mark under their thumb. By making you afraid of losing out or having greater damage done by getting out, they can continue to exploit you. Some individuals can be and have been conned by the same ploy for years after they’ve already recognized that it’s a scam – entirely because they were too afraid to get out.

If you recognize a scam, it’s never too late to get out. If you fear your personal information or banking information may be in the control of another person, it’s up to you to report it as soon as you can. If you fail to do so, you’ve fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book.

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