Many internet crimes are committed by manipulating computer systems. In such cases, the only effective defense is strong protection against malware and consistent security measures for safeguarding cryptocurrencies. However, there exists a second type of cybercrime that falls under the same category but doesn't exploit technical vulnerabilities. Instead, it targets a vulnerable point that exists in front of every computer: the human factor.
Table of contents
We will show you the characteristics of a scammer, their thought process, and how to recognize them in most cases.
Its always about Manipulation
Scammers aren't always sophisticated. Many simply rely on the fact that within a large pool of potential victims, there will always be individuals who are careless. This is a factually accurate observation and works particularly well through emails, reflecting the approach of many phishing scams. These scammers avoid well-crafted emails and instead count on finding someone in the masses who will fall for their schemes.
On the other hand, it's more challenging to deal with scammers who go to great lengths to persuade their victims. In many cases, they are skilled manipulators. This constant is something all scammers share: they manipulate their targets.
This involves not only lying but also recognizing what is especially important to the potential victim. Therefore, scammers are always interested in leading their victims and they exploit their victims' ignorance and emotions. While this requires insight into human behavior, many scammers lack empathy. In fact, quite the opposite is true, as they often justify their actions to themselves and others by blaming their victims' perceived inability. They place the blame on the victims for being deceived.
To make matters worse, victims even experience feelings of guilt, as the fraud becomes apparent in hindsight. However, this perspective from the perpetrator doesn't accurately reflect the situation. Beyond feelings of guilt, the deceiver is always the cause of the fraud, not the deceived. Shifting blame might seem plausible, but it contradicts the principle of causality.
How do I recognize a Scammer?
Cryptocurrencies can be associated with the financial sector, which is why scammers in the crypto sector share many similarities with fraudsters who specialize in traditional finance schemes like broker fraud. Here's a non-exhaustive list of traits that reveal a scammer:
- Exaggerated promises: Most scammers present offers that are too good to be true. Extremely high returns well above market rates are a hallmark that often appears in connection with fraud. Always be vigilant in such cases.
- Lack of basic information: Scammers always try to appear as legitimate as possible, but it's hard to find credible information about them. Websites may lack a legal notice, or if you search for companies or business owners in relevant registers, you won't find anything.
- They are threating you: Many scammers don't play on victims' trust but on their fears. After all, who wants to make a mistake and risk a penalty? These perpetrators exploit this mindset and drive their victims to make wrong decisions.
- Everything seems to be perfect: This isn't a "hard" criterion; rather, it's an interpersonal approach. Everything simply fits perfectly. No matter the objection or situation, the scammer always makes the victim feel taken care of. This type is particularly difficult to expose because people tend to enjoy feeling well cared for. While this feeling is appropriate in personal contexts, when it comes to business and investments, it's wise to take a step back and think about the situation. Does the person always agree with me, either directly or indirectly? What motivation drives them?
- Everything is official: Another trait is scammers' tendency to repeatedly emphasize their legitimacy. They do this both verbally and in writing, often without being prompted. They want the victim to feel safe. Forged letterheads and documents are frequently used. In personal interactions, scammers tend to present themselves as authorities or at least act as if an authority legitimizes their actions. With careful observation, they can be caught in the act, as they use this supposed status as justification. Genuine officials or authorized personnel don't need to do this. They identify themselves and state their purpose plainly.
Of course, scammers also use other tricks to convince their victims. In the end, they are just deceitful liars, and as such, they have a significant weakness. Only a few people are capable of sustaining a lie without experiencing stress. Habitual liars might be an exception, but most scammers know very well that they are acting dishonestly and thus become nervous at a certain point.
How to protect yourself in Conversations with Scammers
First and foremost, it's important to note that nobody should put themselves in danger to expose a scammer. Investigations and confrontations are the responsibility of the police, not private individuals.
However, if you find yourself on the phone or in a personal conversation with a scammer, it's important to remain calm and pay attention to the aforementioned warning signs. If possible, always have the option to end the conversation and avoid confrontation. This is particularly easy over the phone or via email, but if you're face-to-face with the scammer, it can be uncomfortable for many people.
Always remember that you have the right to refuse contact or end conversations. If you feel that someone is trying to manipulate you and is a fraudster or at least a very persistent salesperson, your goal should always be to leave and exit the situation as quickly as possible. If the person is in your home or office, your goal is to have them leave the premises.
If you can leave the location yourself, remember the following phrase:
"What, it's already so late?! I need to catch my flight to Bali!"
Say it out loud and simply leave. Few people can adequately respond to this kind of conversation interruption, as they are caught off guard. Admittedly, it's impolite, but effective, as the scammer will most likely be speechless, and you'll already be on your way.
If you have a suspected fraudster in your home, the situation becomes more difficult. Many people struggle to kick someone out and tolerate salespeople and scammers in their homes. Here are a few strategies for extricating yourself from such situations:
- Politely ask the person to leave the house: "I'm sorry, I'm not interested, and I must ask you to leave immediately." Say this politely and with a firm voice. Stand up and walk to the door to escort the person out. This method is straightforward and efficient, as it clearly conveys your stance while remaining respectful.
- Get reinforcement: If you can't bring yourself to do it alone, briefly excuse yourself and fetch a neighbor to help. At your workplace, involve superiors or colleagues. The downside is that you'll leave the person briefly unsupervised. Once you have assistance, also politely ask them to leave the premises promptly.
- Call 911 (or your local emergency number) if in doubt: Sometimes our imagination plays tricks on us, and we're not actually in danger. However, often our gut feeling is a good guide. If you have reason to believe you're in danger, find a safe place and call the police or ask for help. You can lock yourself in another room and wait for the officers to arrive. This might seem extreme, but ensuring your safety is paramount. Whether the danger is real or perceived, the police are there to help and protect you.
What Should I Do if I've Fallen Victim to a Scammer?
Contact Crypto-Tracing as soon as possible. We track transactions on the blockchain and document them, which is incredibly useful for investigations. Additionally, we work closely with attorney Marc Maisch, who can provide comprehensive support. This includes legal advice as well as pursuing claims and potential legal proceedings.
Don't hesitate, and reach out to us as quickly as possible. The sooner you act, the more likely you'll achieve success in pursuing the culprits.
FAQs about Scammers
Can someone mistakenly be considered a scammer?
Yes, because scammers share some traits that are also found in aggressive salespeople. This includes pressuring for contract agreements, unsolicited contact via phone, among other things. These sales representatives usually meet their customers at their door or over the phone. However, their intention isn't to commit a crime, though their approach can still be uncomfortable.
Is a scammer always a criminal?
The terms "scam" and "scammer" are often used within the cryptocurrency community, which can sometimes lead to an inflation of their usage. Therefore, failed projects and their developers are sometimes labeled as such, even though no crime has been committed.