True or False: Only ignorant people fall for scams?

| 21 Mar 2019

True or False: Only ignorant people fall for scams?

There is a 50% offer for the latest iPhone and all you have to do is pay $100 for international shipping! What would you do? While the majority of us might immediately start pointing out the clear signs of a scam, many still end up falling for the hoax offer. Which leads us to the question: Why? Are the victims just gullible? Are they not smart enough?

Stacey Wood, a psychology professor from Scripps College, has conducted several in-depth studies on scams and consumer susceptibility. Anyone can become susceptible to scams, regardless of age, gender or other demographics, according to Dr Wood. Even someone with foresight and high intelligence can fall victim to a scam.

Think of it this way: as consumers, we have all felt misled or even tricked when we purchase products that fall below expectations of what was advertised. Despite that, we still get drawn in, again and again, by the tantalizing offers. Now why would a scam and a legitimate business between the same?

Scammers are essentially empty-advertisers – the products they are selling do not exist, and what’s more, scammers are actually learned in the science of persuasion commonly used in sales, marketing and advertising.

The hook behind many scams is the idea of a large reward, to be collected if only risk was taken. If you could sacrifice a little for the chance to win something big, would you also be manipulated into thinking that the “small” cost is worth the risk? All you have to do is to return a call, visit a link or fill in your details into a form.

There’s more. According to Dr Wood, consumers (and victims) also often assume that they will be smart or wary enough to back out before something bad happens. It looks like we might just be our own enemies when it comes to avoiding scams.

However, we can still defend ourselves against such tricks used by scammers. Weigh the risks (NOT the benefits!) and always trust our instincts. When we feel wary, resist responding or clicking on any suspicious materials, no matter how good the deal seems because when we wake up from our dream, we might already be falling down the never-ending rabbit hole.