The Psychology Behind Advance-Fee Fraud Email Scams

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The Psychology Behind Advance-Fee Fraud Email Scams

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Advance-Fee Fraud is best described as an offer of money, merchandise, services, employment, or even romance, but where the victim is asked to pay a fee in advance to obtain whatever is being promised to them by the scammer. The main scam strategy of all advance-fee fraud scams is to try to persuade the victim to send money, and then continue to send more money to the scammer, as many times as possible, until the victim eventually runs out of money and/or goes into debt as a result of losses from the scam.

Initially scammers will claim that only a certain amount of money is required as the fee that must be paid in advance to facilitate completion of whatever the fictitious transaction is that the scammer is offering, but, as soon as the victim sends the scammer any money, then the scammer will claim that some unforeseen circumstances have arisen and that more money is now required to complete the transaction.

The requests for more money will go on repeatedly and, each time money is paid to the scammer, the scammer may then ask for a larger sum of money the next time as the scam progresses. However, each time the scammer will also promise the victim that this time it will be the final request for money and that the only thing standing in the way of concluding the transaction is the last amount of money which still needs to be paid in advance by the victim. Of course this is never the case because it is a scam and there is no real transaction or money in existence that will ever be sent to the victim by the scammer.

The psychology that the scammer applies is, if a victim sends money even once to a scammer, then it is very likely that the victim can be convinced to send money to the scammer again. This is because, once someone invests financially and emotionally into something, then the person is more likely to invest again and again in order to try and prevent losing whatever has already been invested. Scam victims also hope that the transaction will conclude very soon and that whatever has been promised by the scammer to the victim will soon be achieved and thus compensate for whatever money has been sacrificed by the victim in advance. And in all cases, no matter what the scammer is offering to the victim, it will be made to appear to be more valuable than what the victim is being asked to provide to the scammer. So there will always be a perceived gain on behalf of the victim, which always makes the offer appear to be worth pursuing, no matter how much the victim is asked to pay in advance to complete the transaction.

Using this psychology, scammers may ask for as little as $50-$100 via a gift card payment the first time that they ask for any money. This is a strategy used in some scams in order to simply get a victim invested into a scam. Then the scammer will start to increase the amount of money requested once the first amount has been paid by the victim. This is done in order to get more and more money out of the victim each time and to continue to get the victim more deeply invested so that the victim continues to send more money to the scammer. The more that a victim is invested into the scam, the more the victim also stands to lose, thus it becomes less likely that the victim will simply walk away from the transaction as the scam progresses.

Another technique often used by scammers is to change identities and personas multiple times throughout the scam. As the victim falls deeper into the scam, the scammer will often introduce the scam victim to other parties and partners who the scammer claims will be assisting with the transaction. This technique is added as an attempt by the scammer to increase their credibility and to portray to the victim that their offer is one of great importance.

Additional parties brought into a scam by a scammer may be presented as lawyers (barristers), bankers, courier and security companies, or even a religious figure such as a pastor or reverend father. In almost all cases though the victim is dealing with only one person who is the same scammer acting behind all of the different fake personas and various email addresses being implemented by the scammer. The scammer may also introduce fake websites (sometimes more than one) and a number of fraudulent documents in order to try to further convince the victim that the fake transaction is in fact real.

Another psychological technique often used by email scammers is to send the victim a new scam email called a “Past Effort” scam within 1-2 months after contact between the scammer and the victim has ended. Please click here to read more about how Past Effort scams work.

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