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How a Scam Works: It’s All in the Formula and You’re an Ingredient.


How does someone go from being a target of a scam, to being a victim of one? It’s not an automatic or instant process. It can take a few minutes, a few hours or a few days. Here’s how a scam works and how someone gets tricked.

How a Scam Works Infographic

However, when you know how a scam works, the odds are in your favor. Look at the illustration above and you’ll see how it all comes together and makes sense. Much like a play has a structure and various elements that come together for a performance, a scam has a structure all its own. 

It doesn’t matter what type of scam is going on, the formula is almost like a play or a movie with characters playing their role.  

The scam as a play. 

All the elements are there to put on a successful fraud show. Let’s start with the “actors.” 

Lead actor: That’s the scammer, of course, and they know their part well. They’re experts in their role, in fact. They’ve rehearsed it plenty of times and are comfortable on stage. Of course, they’re playing primarily to an audience of one, but they might also be conning thousands of people, say, in an investment scam.

The storyline. Just like the script of a play, the scammers have a special and highly engaging story to tell you. Whether it’s a tale of rags to riches (where you can change your financial fortunes) or a cop story where the authorities are after you for unpaid taxes, the story unfolds quick and clear. It has a clear opening, but the ending is up in the air. 

The antagonist. In a play or movie, the antagonist provides the conflict for the protagonist. You may not know it, but In this case, the antagonist is you, even if you don’t know it! More than that, If you play your role right, you’ll foil the scammer’s story and the curtain will come down. 

But if the antagonist forgets his lines, the lead actor will be victorious in his scam. His story will win the day. 

Read the full article at that explains how easily a fraudster can turn you into the victim of a scam. It will make you think twice the next time you’re communicating with a stranger.

Click for the complete recipe of a scam.

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