Fraud is a two-way street crime.

That means, if a conman is going to steal your money, he needs you to help him get it.

Unlike theft by force or violence, fraud is theft by stealth and trust. It is a crime of persuasion. The scammers job, duping you into parting with your money, begins by somehow making you susceptible to being duped.

Playing on your emotions, he needs to make you believe a very basic lie — that he has the power to make you richer, sexier, happier and that all you have to do to become richer, sexier, happier is to let him into your life. That, by giving him your money, your wishes will come true.

While most of us would never open the door to a stranger who has come to steal our wallet, thousands of people willingly let fraudsters into their lives every day, only to find out the hard way the meaning of betrayal.

One of the most basic human emotions that conmen rely on — heavily! — is greed. Who wouldn’t turn down a get-rich-quick scheme if he or she was 100% convinced that it is 1000% foolproof? So, the fraudster goes about convincing you that, beyond any shadow of doubt, you can’t possibly lose.

Once he ignites your greed, he knows that carelessness will automatically follow, and that’s the slippery-slope to stupidity. Successful fraudsters not only understand this, they play off it with devastating effect. After all, this is how they make their living.

Later, when a scam is dissected, almost all victims invariably ask, “How could I have fallen for that?”

That’s never a simple question for a victim to answer, because the victim played a role in his or her own demise. Being hoodwinked by a criminal truly hurts. Yet, in the cold light of day, how it happened and why it happened becomes obvious — it happened because common sense took the day off.

And there-in lies the best protection anyone can have when it comes to preventing fraud — a healthy dose of common sense.

If the deal someone is offering you strikes you as too good to be true, if your gut feeling is driving you to ask, how come I got so lucky, then the best advice ever is, when in doubt, don’t.

Don’t let the fraudster in your front door.

Don’t believe that you have been singled out from all the other people on the planet to win at whatever game your new friend is playing at.

In our complex, globalized, hi-tech world, fraudsters, scammers and conmen of all shapes and sizes are more skilled in their craft, more elusive through their use of technology and more erudite in their understanding of our desires than ever before. And, like animals in the jungle, there is a natural culling of the herd. Bad fraudsters get arrested. The good ones just get better.

It’s common sense that levels the playing field.

That’s why the old caveat is still the best: If it is too good to be true, it ain’t true!

Nothing could be more common sense than that.


(c) Jeffrey Robinson 2010, 2112