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The Psychological Tricks of Scam Artists

Only foolish people get scammed. We all want to believe that we could never be the ones to be duped. We hear of the widower who was swindled out of all of her money or the woman who entered into a relationship with a con artist and we think that could never be me. Every single one of us thinks that we know better. We think that we would be able to see the warning signs.

We couldn’t be more wrong.

After all, haven’t we all been duped at one time or another? Perhaps we weren’t swindled out of money, but most of us have trusted a person who turned out later to be untrustworthy. Or perhaps we believed an offer that sounded too good to be true, simply because we wanted to. We hear the stories about big cons, but ignore the smaller, more likely scenarios that we are all personally familiar with.

Failing to take scammers seriously can cause us to put our guard down, which leads us vulnerable to scammers. Understanding the psychological tricks that scammers use can help us read people more effectively, stay away from bad relationships, and find out the truth behind every good con. Here are some of the top psychological tricks to know about.

1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Scammers insist that you need to act now. They do this because they don’t want you to think. Thinking it over or talking to a loved one about the situation will bring logic and rationality to the forefront, which typically shows the scam for what it is: a lie. Getting you to act on raw emotion is their best bet. Never make a big decision on a whim. It can wait.

2. Take Advantage of Your Trust in Authority and Loved Ones

Scammers find out who and what you trust and then try to impersonate those individuals, or make themselves seem aligned with those entities. For example, a phishing scam will use a manager’s name in the email to ensure a worker replies urgently, thinking it’s their boss. A narcissistic man may claim to care about the same things that his victim does, ensuring she believes he is trustworthy and familiar.

3. Count on Mob Mentality

If the scammer can get just one person to believe a scam, then others are likely to follow suit. For example, many pyramid schemes prey on friends and family to buy and sell their products, which encourages those who know those individuals to buy and sell them too. Nobody likes to act alone, and the scammer knows this. If they can make you believe that everyone is doing it, it is only human nature for you to be intrigued.

4. Distract You While They Plan

A scammer loves to distract his or her victims. They may give out gifts, send out unrelated emails, or ask you to do things that keep you busy. Busy people tend to be distracted people, which make for better scam victims. Distracting you also makes you trust the scammer, because he or she isn’t scamming you, yet. They are merely preparing you for a future scam. Don’t fall for it.

5. Prey on Emotionally Troubled People

Scammers and narcissists love to prey on the people they consider weak: those who have lost loved ones, people who need money, the young, the old, or those who are desperate for companionship. They will take advantage of your frail emotional state, knowing it makes you more susceptible to irrational thinking. Try not to make any big decisions when you are upset or in financial trouble. Wait until you can think rationally or logically about what you need to do.

6. Prey on The Good-Hearted

Millions of people around the world want to help others in need. Scammers know this, and they love to seek out those big-hearted individuals. The so-called Tinder Swindler scammed women out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be in danger, claiming he needed immediate financial help. Other women have been conned by scammers who pretend to have sick or disabled children and/or parents. We don’t want to believe that there are people out there who are evil enough to make up stories that will tug on our hearts (and purse strings!) Unfortunately, there are. Be skeptical of anyone that you don’t completely know who asks for money or favors.

Have you been scammed by a con artist or narcissist? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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