An associate of mine recently shared that she had fallen prey to a scam that cost her several thousand dollars, much anguish and self-chastisement. How could someone who holds a doctorate degree, she lamented, allow herself to be swindled so easily by a con artist.
After consoling her and reminding her that we all make mistakes in life, regardless of our educational background, it occurred to me to share the following insights that might prove helpful to the broader community. Bullies and con artists seek to appeal primarily to two human emotions: Fear and Gratitude.
I recently experienced their first attempt at fear. One evening, I received a voicemail threatening me with “legal action” if I failed to return the call immediately and speak with someone in their “Concern Department.”
At first, I was aggravated. Apparently, the scammers were not aware that they were threatening an Attorney at Law who holds a law license in the nation’s capital. Slothful research on their part.
But then, after I played the recording again, my aggravation quickly turned to amusement. Surely the scammers could have come up with a more plausible title for their fiendish ploy than the “Concern Department.” How about the “Rip Off” Department? Or the “We’re Too Lazy to get a Decent, Honest Job” Department?
My aforementioned associate experienced the latter tactic – gratitude. The fraudsters convinced her that they were diligently and tirelessly working on her behalf, as employees within the “anti-fraud” unit of her bank, to detect and prevent “suspicious activity” regarding her account. All they needed was “just a little information” from her to “verify” details of her account.
Moved by gratitude that these people were working diligently on her behalf to “secure” her account, my associate promptly provided the requested information. Unfortunately, her thankfulness compromised her account and cost her a significant financial loss.
Although my law license is in the District of Columbia, here’s some free advice that cuts across all jurisdictions throughout America:
Do not allow yourself, your family or friends to be bullied and intimidated by con artists. Bullies and con artists thrive on people making rash decisions out of fear and unearned gratitude.
Always pause to think. Always stay calm and avoid panic. Never allow bullies and con artists to do your thinking for you, or dictate your actions.
If something I’ve said herein has been helpful to anyone, then my heart is glad. Share the post broadly with family, friends and colleagues.
Stay safe and well, all.
Shenandoah Titus, Chief Counsel Whistleblower Anti-Bullying Resource Network (WARN)