For con artists, schemes and scams are games that they play on people and winning is the acquisition of someone else’s money or valuable possessions. Every con game has three moves:
- An approach designed to determine the victim’s willingness to stop and listen to the pitch or whether the victim possesses enough money to make the theft worthwhile.
- An offer of something for nothing or an appeal based on superstition.
- Getting the victim to physically exhibit the money. The victim will then be relieved of his or her money using various techniques, the most common of which is the swapping of envelopes, wallets, or other personal items.
Con artists make money by deceiving and cheating people. They often do this by taking advantage of human weaknesses. It’s often in our nature to want to believe what other people tell us. Scammers try to take advantage of people’s trust in order to trick targets out of their money. Unfortunately, some scammers target the kindness of others by gaining their friendship and trust. Scams like get-rich-quick schemes or fake investments attempt to trick targets with the promise of wealth.
BLESSING SCAM / HEALING SCAM
Blessing scams appeal to people’s superstitious beliefs. They first appeared in China and have seen a rise in the United States in recent years. Posing as a fortune-teller, the suspect will say that he or she can sense a curse on the victim or a member of the victim’s family or sense that the victim is sick with some kind of disease, such as cancer. The suspect then offers to perform a ritual to drive evil spirits away. Or the suspect may even offer a fake cure medication for a large donation. The victim is told to bring a bag of money or jewelry to be blessed during the ritual, which then gets switched with another bag that’s filled with useless objects, such as plastic bottles. As part of the scam, the victim is instructed to wait for a certain period of time (days, weeks) before opening the bag, which allows the scammer to get away.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- If someone tells you that a family member is in danger, make sure right away that your family is safe. Call them or contact them directly to ensure their safety.
- Be careful of what you discuss in public. The more criminals know about you, the easier it is for them to act as friends or experts.
- Know that some people posing as psychics or fortune-tellers may use superstitions to scare you when, in fact, they don’t actually have special powers.
- Always confer with people you trust. If someone you don’t know wants you to bring them valuables, discuss it with your family before acting hastily.