For as long as humans have lived, scams and frauds have always been in existence. The dubious ways of making money or collecting assets from people in an illegal and immoral way have become the norm in society at large. This vice is eating our society and morals and yes, morals are contextual but taking from people who work hard to earn their money has no context worth justifying.
The best scams come in disguise, many claims are made concerning how to make quick money and some are even advanced to the extent that they promise better returns than what real investments would. An example was the popular MMM that was used to exploit and milk a large number of people around the world of their money. Apart from these ones that require mass theft, what of Advanced fee fraud done by fraudsters? Advanced fee fraud is a type of fraud in which individuals or even businesses are required to pay for products, goods or service needed before getting them but are never given.
Cybercriminals known as yahoo boys in Nigeria continue to operate and improve on their scam techniques with the aid of technologically enabled tools such as VPN applications to make their location unknown, photo editing and manipulation software to create false appearances, using bitcoin to receive fraudulent proceeds and creating web pages to deceive people.
Recently, we get to hear about Crowd 1, a global pyramid scam, run from Europe, that makes use of smartphones to cheat people across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Crowd1 describes itself as the fastest-growing crowd marketing company in the world and goes on to feed on people’s fantasy and desires by producing social media videos that show members buying new cars and enjoying luxury holidays.
This scheme is using the classic pyramid order of scheme, disguising it as a means for one to become a millionaire by selling digital products to your friends and families. You earn commissions for bringing new members and these serve as incentives to lure unaware members of the public.
These schemes are feeding and gaining credibility through factors such as word of mouth and share of search. Word of mouth is the passing of information from person to another and it brings credibility when you regard the person you are receiving the message from and in order to gain this word of mouth, the referral structure was put in place. You refer your friends and family and gain a commission.
Another factor is the share of search. This involves the number of times something is being searched for on the internet or the number of times it is being googled. When people start to talk about the scheme on the internet, there is a tendency that it would be searched on google cause you want to read more about it and if the positive reviews override the negative, there is possibility for someone to consider the scheme as authentic and legal.
Another factor that makes the scams disguised as schemes appealing to people is their goals, dreams and desires. At that moment, they forget about hard or smart work, every shortcuts look appealing no matter the signals. They become vulnerable and serve as prey to this set of predators out to deceive people. People want to own what they desire or want and when they see an easy way or quick fix, they are quick to switch from logic to emotions. They want to experience what they want and leave things to emotions and then post-rationalise after. People try to justify the logic behind their emotions one way or the other.
Let us further look at these Yahoo boys tricks popularly known as format. One of the activities they use to exploit people’s desires is the use of free dating sites. However, they are also using paid dating sites due to the number of scammers on the free one. Scammers don’t want to be scammed. Many of these fraudsters prey on people who are on the look out for a partner especially single older women who are in need of a companion. This fraudsters also have associates who help in obtaining goods or money from the person scammed.
What can be deduced from this is that the advanced fee fraud and other internet scams are becoming more organised and are now like a network where different people offer different roles in the scamming business.
Another trick that these set of scammers do is posing as a business and operating social media pages, so even go to the extent of running internet ads in order to attract unsuspecting members of the public to the too good to be true offer and many go to the extent of creating reviews on their web or social page in order to appear legitimate.
It is the same way that many crowd or network marketing schemes are being promoted, they offer so many good to be true and mouth-watering offers coupled with images and videos of successful customers that help reduce your ability to question how true it is as instead, you look forward to being like those customers who had made lots of money off it, you become prey to those offers and just like that you are trapped in an illusion while waiting for the big returns of your time, efforts and money.
In order to break free of the illusion then one should be wary of the factors outlined and also be careful of too good to be true offers as these factors would help people when it comes to making decisions and it would allow them to be wary of fraudsters disguised as regular investments, businesses and companies.