Ahhh, the $64K question. Again, the answer is, anyone – potentially.
This not to scare you, but to caution you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you know someone or because you have something in common with someone, that he or she is trustworthy. There are dishonest folks among those near and dear to us – our neighbors, acquaintances, and, yes, even family. If one of the above comes to you with a great deal, a sound investment, a hot tip, a surefire scheme, be careful! Any proposal that requires you to contribute money, sign your name, or give personal information should set off warning bells in your head.
Why would someone you know try to scam you? Because it’s less work. They already have your trust, or think they do. They have easy access to you. Your guard is down. You’re more likely to say yes to whatever they ask, especially if they claim to be in need or trouble. If they’re a relative, they may use guilt to manipulate your emotions. People who share something in common with you – a member of the same club or congregation, a classmate – can also trade on that association to gain your trust.
Potential perpetrators include those we look to for advice or assistance. Doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, brokers, bankers and other professional individuals project an air of authority. We rely on them for their expertise, and in most instances, they are reliable and helpful. This does not mean, however, that we should accept everything they propose or say without questioning. They are in possession of sensitive medical, financial and other personal information that could allow them to take advantage of their clients, if they are less than ethical.
Then again, the scammer could be some random person who comes up to you on the street. Or calls you on the phone. You may never even see or hear the person who is trying to swindle you.
Con men and women vary in approach, motivation and experience. Some are professional, long-time scam artists. Others have fallen into the con game as a result of circumstance and are not as practiced. They may be aggressive or smooth talking. A con person may look like the girl next door or the scary hitchhiker from a horror movie. But don’t imagine that you will know just by looking.
So let’s review. You can be conned by anybody.