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Why Do Scams Work? The Tried-and-True Formula Makes Them Happen.

How Scammer Steal Billions Every Year

Every minute of every day there are literally hundreds of successful scams in the works…but why do scams work? After all, most people think, don’t people know better by now?  

Here’s a couple of reasons why they work.

  • All victims are 100% human. It’s truly not fair to ask, “didn’t these victims know better?” It’s not a matter of knowing better. Many highly intelligent and wise people have been scammed. That’s a fact. Unlike Mr. Spock from Star Trek, we are not 100% logical and without human thoughts, experiences, feelings and reactions. We all have them.
  • There’s a formula at work. Ultimately, scams work because as varied as they are, there is a tried and true “formula” at work, a dynamic, evolving playbook that keeps up with the times.

Here’s a new (and better) way to see and understand how and why scams work.

As you look at this fun and informative infographic, exclusive to, keep these two important thoughts in mind:

  1. Most victims are not looking to get rich, famous or snag a great deal. There are scams that prey on people’s every want and need. There are also some that prey on a person’s everyday concerns, or even their worst fears.
  2. The victims are not to blame. Even though they wind up becoming a victim, they’re led, guided and encouraged by a skilled psychologist and salesperson: the scammer.
How a Scam Works

Digging a little deeper into the scam formula.

Q. Just how do scammers steal billions of dollars from us every year?

A. They enlist their victims’ cooperation.

That’s not at all meant to put the blame on the victims. It’s simply a fact on how the process works.

An article on the website sheds tremendous light on this aspect of a scam. We’re human, therefore we’re susceptible to scams.

Scammers know this. We’re still learning this.

Absolutely Doable and It's Free.

Money. The great motivator.

We illustrated that the formula for a scam still works. But what motivates the chef to cook up their scheme?

Money. It’s all about money.

For the scammer (the imposter/liar) it’s about getting the victim’s money. Sure, sometimes, the goal is information (bank codes, passwords, the boss’s name) but in the end it’s about finding a pot of gold for their efforts. From the very start, every lie that’s spread is to get them one step closer to what the target has that they want.

For you, the target, it’s about making money, saving money, or protecting your money. In select instances, it’s about using your money to help others.

You share that in common. Money is at the heart of the issue.

The Players: The scammer and you.

A scam is a two-way interaction. It involves a person with a devious plan, and the person they hope to use it on. It is a one-on-one encounter that starts when the scammer reaches out to you.

The thing to remember is this—you won’t know that you’re dialoguing with a scammer. And you might not figure it out until the scam is over and done with. Scammers are very good at what they do.

The Setup. There’s an important message for you.

That message comprises the heart of the scammer’s scheme and plan. It could be appealing and enticing to pique your interest. Or, if it’s a trouble-based message, it could concern or scare you.

If you don’t reject the message straight out, the scammer is off to a good start. The scammer has “engaged” you. As you remain engaged, you’re drawn deeper into the scam and might have unknowingly taken the bait. If you do, you’re primed to follow the advice and instructions given by the scammer.

The Decision. The moment of truth.

From the very moment you got the call, the scammer’s goal was getting you to give them your money, one way or another. If you still believe the message, you will do what you think is the right thing and send off your money as instructed.

If they’ve done their part right, you’re under the belief that you took important action. At least you hope you did.

The Truth. You eventually realize you’ve been scammed.

It may take days, weeks or months for you to discover the truth. The money that left your account didn’t solve a problem, help someone out or help you financially.

It simply disappeared. It’s gone and you have no idea where it went. The scammer’s disappeared too, along with it. They don’t even bother to let you know you’ve been victimized. They have already moved on to find their next victim.

And that’s when it finally sinks in. You’ve been lied to, victimized and scammed. You might feel embarrassed and won’t want to tell anyone, even though you should.

You belong to a club with millions of members. You’ve become a scam victim.

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The Easy Prey Podcast has more than 220 episodes on topics related to scams, fraud and personal and financial safety. Host Chris Parker, who is also the CEO of, interviews experts on the key topics of the day. You can sign up to get new-episode alerts at the link below.

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