Some thoughts on scamming

Last night I heard about a local couple who got scammed out of 22k for an adoption that never happened. Seems they gave the money up front but the agency didn’t ever provide a child. The show mentioned 60 some families who had been rooked by the “agency.”

Sad. And I hope they are able to get their money back even though it looks as unlikely as Madoff’s victims. The sad tale got me thinking about the common facets of a “successful” scam.

1. Offer something of value that a vulnerable (somewhat desperate) person needs
2. Package (cloak) the offer with things that comfort (e.g., religion, the right words, a good reference from a known trusted individual)
3. Have compatriots act as satisfied customers
4. Get the victim to ante up a small amount so as not to raise suspicions (foot-in-the-door technique)
5. Find ways to get the victim to give just a bit more until they have given enough that they can’t back out for fear of losing all they have invested.
6. When problems arise, have good explanations well rehearsed and on the tip of the tongue.
7. Have a ready list of promised solutions that never come.

A “good” scam has to be believable and needs someone interested in believing in the truth. Not all that different from Adam and Eve: a desire meets something that looked good coupled with a winsome voice to make the hearers “forget” the truth.

While there are the scams that get the attention of the media, we all participate in subtle scams. Consider the dating relationship scam. A person learns to say the right thing so as to win the heart of another (and they think they mean it!). Sadly, after the marriage, the true colors come out (control, depression, introversion). But the other has bought into the scam and so it is too late to back out easily.

Have you been the victim of a scam? Unintentionally scammed another?

1 Comment

Filed under Cultural Anthropology, deception, Relationships

One response to “Some thoughts on scamming

  1. Amy

    Adoption scams are especially heartbreaking to me. I see the desire that so many couples (or singles) have to rear a child. A lot of times there’s the heartbreak of failed pregnancy, false promises, and what not. So by the time these crooks rolled around, I imagine many couples were desperate.

    I wonder if they were an international or local adoption “agency.” Depending on what route one wishes to take, local adoption is free! Plus while the children are in care, foster-then-adoptive parents receive a stipend from the state, which many parents put aside for the child’s future. Adopting locally doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (oh, and parents are reimbursed for courts costs!) A lot of people want babies, though so this isn’t a feasible option.

    I think with international adoption people don’t want to wait for all the red tape, so they’re willing to pay the extra dough to ensure a safe and smooth adoption. Unfortunately, things like this happen.

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