Paging Erich Gonzales! How to identify a scammer in this day and age, from a mile away
Erich Gonzales can learn a few tips from experts’ advice
Jul 6, 2017
The recent revelations of accused scammer Xian Gaza, who trended this week after posting a billboard asking actress Erich Gonzales out on a coffee date, have heightened the alert on con artists and scammers living amongst us. After a former employee and actress Ella Cruz’s mother, among other accusations, spoke up about their own scam experience with Gaza, the latter released a lengthy post on Facebook in his defense.
The viral story has the internet in a huddle, whether it’s a sweet gesture or a prelude to a scam. In any case, it’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for con artists in the midst of the crowd. Here are some tips on how to spot a scammer a mile away.
1. They’re either narcissists or sociopaths, or probably both
According to Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time,” con artists are fueled by narcissism, thus their thinking, “I deserve it.” Although Konnikova also cites Machiavellianism and psychopathy as other driving factors, a milder version is sociopathy. The latter explains why they do what they do, without regard to how it will affect others because of their detachment to humanity and a lack of conscience.
2. They’re charming, nice and, responsive
Buttering up to the next victim requires the con artist to be great listeners. Apart from earning the trust of the victim, they normally pick up small details they can use to their advantage. In Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People, he notes that people are more trusting with the feeling of familiarity. Con artists will use this as leverage to find something in common, whether it’s an experience (“I lost a friend too.”) or a locale (“My mom is from Cebu.”).
3. They’re very detailed
Because con artists need to win the confidence of their victims, they will have more elaborate details in their stories to make it sound more believable. Anyone who speaks the truth doesn’t need the extra knicks and knacks because they’re confident of credibility. In the Gift of Fear, authored by Gavin de Becker, he writes that “When people lie, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it doesn’t sound credible to them, so they keep talking.”
4. They’re usually in a rut and need a favor
Your newfound friend just lost his job and suddenly needs a place to crash because he’s been evicted? And even if you just met the guy through common friends, you might even say yes to one or two nights because you’re not an asshole. Sounds familiar? According to Konnikova, this “foot in the door” technique of asking small favors often leads to a major one in the future. The opposite however, “door in the face” technique requires you to go out of your way to help. After the victim declines, the con man asks for smaller favors, preying on the initial guilt of saying “no.”
5. They disregard “no” for an answer
Scammers will never take “no” for an answer. In fact, the reasons that cons are hardly reported is because they didn’t break the law to begin with. The victims handed over the money willingly, becoming an active participant in the con. Larger cons, of course, can be charged in court for estafa. De Becker in his book mentions that disregarding your disapproval is a way of gaining control, especially if they try to talk you out of your decision, “declining to hear ‘no’ is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it.”
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