Who Gets Scammed?

Do you have a mirror? Hold it up to your face. You’re looking at a potential victim.

The truth is, anyone can be the victim of a scam.  You shouldn’t think that you are off the hook if you don’t fall into one of the following categories. However, there are certain groups that are more attractive to con artists simply because of their vulnerability.

Senior citizens are a favorite target of scam artists. Seniors tend to have more savings. They are more likely to be alone at home. They were raised in more trusting times and are more likely to be courteous to door-to-door salesmen or telemarketers. They are less likely to report the fraud for fear that they will be considered incapacitated and lose their independence. Many are also affected by memory problems and other effects of aging that make them unable to recall specific details of the scam and its perpetrator.

College students tend to be more open to approaches from strangers.  They are much more plugged in to the internet and therefore provide more avenues of access for would-be scammers.  In general, valuables such as credit cards and other forms of identity are kept in less secure environments such as common rooms, classrooms and dormitories.  College students are also looking to become established in the world, and are thus vulnerable to people who claim they can help them get a job, procure a loan, buy a car, get their work published.  This is all fertile ground for con artists.  Plus, let’s face it, young folk want something for nothing.  I know I did.  Free ticket?  Vacation to Hawaii?  Lottery jackpot?  Sign me up – or rather – take my money!

Minorities are often targeted by perpetrators of affinity fraud, which seeks to entice victims through the use of common characteristics or a shared identity.  For more on affinity fraud, see Chapter Seven.  Minorities in the U.S. are more likely to be low income, leaving them with fewer resources and at risk to criminals who promise to help them obtain goods and services, or even credit, more easily or at a discounted cost.  New immigrants who are not familiar with the culture and/or do not speak English are especially susceptible as they rely on others to help them navigate American society.

Women are 26 percent more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men.  Con men are always on the lookout for unattended possessions, and women’s handbags are a goldmine of personal information.  Women are responsible for more than three-quarters of all consumer purchases.  Their credit card and bank account numbers are readily accessible to would-be swindlers.  Specific cons, such as sweetheart scams, work-at-home schemes and fortunetelling, also cater to women.  

Don’t think you’re off the hook if you don’t fall into one of these categories.  People of all different persuasions are scammed and cheated on a daily basis.  The con men are ready to exploit any advantage, no matter who the victim is.  They’ll see you coming.  But will you see them? 

Everyone thinks it cannot happen to them until it does.  Just to be quite clear – ANYONE CAN BE SCAMMED.



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