By | August 20, 2011 9 Comments

How con artists pull off their scams

The Canadian TV show Marketplace broadcast a program in which they set up people to be scammed, capturing it all on video, do show how easy it is. Experts explain the psychology behind the cons. Watch and learn.

Won’t Get Fooled Again on

Link supplied by a Lovefraud reader.

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A very good show! Some key points:

Erica Johnson: In this one he’s offering people the potential of a prize. How does that make people vulnerable?

Doug Shadel: The number one persuasion tactic: something we call “phantom fixation.” A “phantom” is something that you want, but you can’t have, and the conman will dangle that “phantom.” And again, it neightens your emotions, you get all excited about the possibility of winning, and you stop thinking about what you have to do after that. You’ll do anything to get this “phantom.”


Erica Johnson: So why don’t people protect this [sensitive personal] information more?

Doug Shadel: Well, it’s… it’s really surprising to me that even in this day and age after we’ve had ten years of information about identity theft that people still don’t see that as a risk factor. But again, we’re in broad daylight: there is this cultural norm that crime doesn’t happen in plain view. And yet you’ve just proven that it does.

Erica Johnson: Doug Shadel says it’s not just the offer of a prize that can motivate us, but the fear of not winning it.

Doug Shadel: A HUGE persuasion tactic is this notion of “scarcity,” and this goes all the way back to the Neanderthal brain of ours—that’s still there, by the way; it’s been there for six million years [sic]. We are instinctively averse to the idea of “losing” something, and so one of the stages of fraud, a lot of these scams, is the “take away,” right, which is… you say “Well you could have this, but actually I don’t have any right now,” or “If you don’t act right now, you’ll lose it.” And again, it engages the emotional brain, the neocortex turns off. You may not even want it, but now you do, because you can’t have it or you may lose it.


Just read this in a list in readers digest online about how to spot a liar :

Ask Questions—Quickly

If you suspect you’re being deceived, try this technique, which experts say can trip up a liar.

Try asking questions quickly—one after the other. “The initial lie is easy,” explains Kang Lee, director of the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto, and whose behavioural work with children can often be applied to adults. “The follow-up lie is more difficult. When you continue to ask questions and put people on the spot, it gets harder to maintain the lie.”

this one would have saved me a whole lot of grief.


redwald – an watching it now, but your two points above ring so true for me.


interesting one/joy. I wonder if that works on psychopaths, since they’ve practically been honing their LYING skills their whole lives. but then again, sometimes they are just flat out terrible liars.. who knows.


dancingnancies – i think it would have ‘worked’ with my spath. her whole ruse was that the fake boy was too fragile to be pushed. When i did ask questions over time they were met with escalating irritation and in the very end, i asked and asked and asked and watched as she changed the story again and again until she found one she thought i ‘bought’.

so yes, if i had asked more, persistently in the beginning or at any point, i would have seen the flags flying much more quickly and potentially gotten out.


hmmm… I just posted here and it disappeared.
Coping’s post to Hens, seems to appear and disappear for me. Website issues?

I was just saying that the video is interesting particularly at 24:15 with the discussion about the forehead. My spath had that same “surprised” look as the murdering woman. He even had it when he was a toddler. I saw it in a pic. It wasn’t permanent, it was just something he did, often. Could this be a Red Flag?


sky – i have been having these issues with the site all day.


I’ve seen either this show or one like it……it’s GOOD information.
BUT…..I still don’t think people will ‘get it’ ……until they are the ones scammed.

If you watch ALL of the scammeee’s reactions they are all very surprised, yet they realized they had ‘made’ a mistake…gave too much info etc…..

Lesson here….operate on our OWN timing in situations.
Time allows us the moments we need to reevaluate what is ‘real’ or to collect ourselves to walk away.

Thanks for posting this valuable insight Donna!!!!


Excellent video, Donna — please post more content like this.

One of the many anguishes we spath victims share is the feeling of vulnerability; knowledge such as this is power, and this knowledge can help us feel better armed against future assaults.

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