I have spent 20 years interviewing thousands of people who’ve fallen for scams and ripoffs. I’ve interviewed hundreds of criminals, too, not to mention pseudo-criminals who work at corporations that survive almost entirely on their ability to fool people. I’m frequently asked: what makes people fall for scams? What makes someone a good “mark”?
While I worked at NBC, I was always reluctant to give clear opinions on such things. Now that I’m an independent journalist, I feel more free to speak out. I have plenty of strong opinions on this one.
But before I tell you what’s wrong with the tired old saw, “If it seems too good to be true, it is,” let me get this out of the way: I hate people who blame the victim.
Yes, consumers can be dumb, foolish, and even greedy. None of these things should ever be construed as permission to steal from them. These are the kinds of excuses you hear from criminals and corporations all the time, and I hate them. It’s always clear who the bad guy is: The guy who walks away with the money. The test is easy: Any time you take someone’s money and that person is confused about why, you are wrong. Give the money back. Read more