Some financial scams also use an element of grooming, usually to prevent the victim from reporting the fraud or to get the victim to comply once they become suspicious. For example, a victim can be called or contacted without notice and offered a good investment opportunity with a quick profit. The scammer can set up a scam website to make the scam more legitimate, and since it takes time and resources, it is in the best interest of the scammer to stay active in the scam business for as long as possible.
If the victim decides to invest, they will be given some seemingly legitimate papers to sign, and for a period of time, they will be convinced that the deal they just made is credible. But once the period of time originally cited when the victim is supposed to get feedback has passed, suspicion will quickly set in and the victim will start asking questions. This is a dangerous step for the scammer because it is in their best interests to make the scam last as long as possible. Often this is where another person will be called upon to âchill the brandâ. It’s a very old scam technique. This new person will establish a friendship with a victim, perhaps by calling them daily and engaging in multiple conversations where personal details of everyday life are exchanged. Frequently, just like in romance scams, a con artist may imitate the victim’s circumstances, claiming to have the same religious affiliation or to have the same beliefs and attitudes as the victim. This similarity will increase confidence. The scammer will use this trust to reassure the victim by promising them that the deadline is short and that there are only minor complications, while assuming the position of a friend and confidant. This makes it difficult for the victim to report the crime once she begins to suspect that something is wrong because she feels guilty for reporting a friend.
The point of “chilling the brand” is to make a victim accept that they’ve been scammed, and the scammer may continue to scam more people in the meantime. Victims may also be asked to keep the transaction secret, on the pretext that only a limited number of people can benefit from the transaction or perhaps because the transaction is not completely ethical or legal. It also plays into the hands of fraudsters and avoids detection, as the victim may feel like they have been involved in something illegal.
Putting a victim in a certain role is a scam technique known in psychological parlance as altercast. For example, people wouldn’t hesitate to report a stranger, but when it comes to people they consider friends, it’s harder because a true friend wouldn’t hurt us, so there’s difficulty in accepting this awareness.
Psychic and clairvoyant scams
Some psychic and clairvoyant scams can also be associated with an element of grooming. These types of scams target recently bereaved people, but women and young people are also more vulnerable to these types of frauds. A victim may interact with the psychic multiple times, becoming emotionally dependent on these conversations to manage their grief. The psychic may appear friendly and caring, taking on a role of protector and friend, but while exploiting the victim for monetary gain. If a victim decides to cut ties, threats are sometimes used to keep the exploitation going. The seer or psychic can tell the victim that someone has cast a spell or bad luck on them and ask for money to remove it, keeping the victim in a never-ending nightmare. The longer this relationship lasts, the more difficult it is for the victim to separate from it because of a sense of loyalty or fear.
What to do if you suspect that a con artist is preparing you
Scammers rely on secrecy, so the first thing you can do to protect yourself is confide in a good friend or family member and ask them for advice. Since they’re not emotionally invested, they’re likely to offer rational advice or a sounding board, which may be all you need to break up. Remember, crooks thrive where secrecy reigns. The second thing you can do is report the scam to the authorities as soon as possible and provide them with as many details as possible. It is likely that other people will be abused by the same con artist, and your actions will prevent someone from having the same experience. You are also likely to get advice on what to do.
Additionally, fraud prevention resources such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Fifth take offer advice and reporting mechanisms. They also post information about recent and known scams, and they can provide additional information.
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