Victims Lose Billions Each Year
Research published by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has found that some knowledge of investments can make people more vulnerable to scams.
The research that has been conducted has found that people who find themselves victims of scams more often than not have a better than average background knowledge of things like lotteries and financial investing.
The OFT is warning that 10% to 20% of the population are particularly vulnerable to such scams.
The report says that: “Compared to non-victims, scam victims report being less able to regulate and resist emotions associated with scam offers. They seem to be unduly open to persuasion, or perhaps unduly indiscriminating about who they allow to persuade them.”
The report was published as part of the OFTs continued campaign that aims to prevent scams. The report suggests that around 3.2 million people are the victims of fraudulent scams, losing around £3.5 billion each year in total.
Gullibility May Be The Key
The types of frauds that the OFT has highlighted in its research include scams from the ‘Nigerian’ or advance free frauds, to bogus lotteries, fake clairvoyants and health cures, bogus investments and crooked racing tipsters.
Fraudsters usually pretend to be a legitimate business and lure their victims with offers of big rewards .
The OFT staff at Exeter University’s psychology department has carried out four independent pieced of research, collectively entitled “The psychology of scams: provoking and committing errors of judgement”.
The results of the research showed that those that are more gullible tend to fall for such schemes more than most, but it also found several other, more surprising things as well.
They found that those who generally play legitimate lotteries or already have some knowledge in investments are more likely than an average person to become the victim or a scam.
Knowledge Can Have A Price
This is because people who put effort into analysing the content of the scam are more likely to fall for them than those who ignore them straight off.
The researchers also found that victims also generally hid their involvement in scams from their family and friends, likely because they want to avoid being told that they are foolish.
The OFT warns that the stereotype that to fall for a scam you must be gullible and foolish needs to be removed. It says that most people who fall victim are simply vulnerable to a “persuasive approach” as scams are usually marketed as legitimate offers.
Some people even willingly take part knowing that it is most likely a scam with the view that it was like a “long-odds gamble”, and that there’s a remote chance it could be real.
Those who never fall victim usually just throw away any fraudulent letters or delete the emails without reading them.
What Do You Think?
Are those that fall for scams gullible or simply unlucky? What can people do to prevent being victimised? Leave your comments here.