Avoid the Christmas scams – vigilance is key.

Christmas is a lucrative time of year for scammers. Peter McGahan says don’t act emotionally and always keep your guard up if you want to avoid falling f…
Christmas Scams

The festive period can be a very magical time – a time of goodwill. It can be hectic, family time, fun, full of love, but also despair and those bad pups who just don’t seem to want to bother with the whole work thing, who are instead happy to scam you. Christmas scams are on the rise.

I’d love to talk to you about presents because they are cool, as in a recent column, but for a different reason, it’s presence once again.

Be present. First things first, don’t expect bad people (those meanies who devise Christmas scams) to play fair. I know it’s disheartening when people cut across our view of fairness, particularly when it’s one of our core values, but their view of fair and yours are often a canyon apart. If I think back to the most unfair thing that has ever happened to me, it was much later that I realised the biggest pain was trying to rationalise how and why someone had been so unfair.

What if that someone just isn’t fair?

Don’t let your guard down to Christmas scams

We can try pushing our view of fairness onto the world, rather than accept there are some bad pups out there and prepare for them.

If you Google a scan of a sociopath’s brain – you’ll get my point. They aren’t the same. The part of the brain that is responsible for sentiments such as empathy and guilt is called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The amygdala mediates fear and anxiety. Studies show that sociopaths have a poor link between the two. As such, they lack empathy and sympathy, almost entirely, seeing it as a game where you lose and they win. That’s how they see it.

It’s simple to them. If you lose, tough.

They have an advantage over society we just cannot compete with because we just couldn’t do something like that, and, we wouldn’t imagine, or be prepared for someone to do that. So, we are caught off guard. Power is everything to them. You might recognise a few.

There you have it – there are bad people out there and trying to make them good is like pushing a river up a hill. Pointless.

The reason for explaining that is because every fraud case I’ve looked at, the customer was over trusting, expecting the person to play fair. One case recently involved a lady whose husband had her car taken away from him because he had a dementia. The company paid her a cheque for money owed. The lady (elderly and with no family nearby) then received a call saying they had underpaid her and asked for her bank details to give the extra money out.

Where on earth they got the information is beyond me, but, she paused thankfully. Con men use very clever techniques. They don’t arrive with a conman badge so don’t expect that. Invariably they are all very charming (see characteristics of a sociopath).

Often it’s a simple numbers game. X million emails will mean 25 people respond and 25 responses will equal 10 victims. To them, its pure maths, and a game, and its well thought through.

They know that your prefrontal cortex helps to guide our actions and responses and therefore regulates emotions. When we are highly aroused, our ability to think straight is challenged because of the response in the brain. They know that.

Hence, emotional issues are often used like winning a prize, finding money you didn’t know about, a helpful Nigerian King, or on the flip side, a tax bill you didn’t know about, a parking ticket with ramped up charges. They are normally timebound, and that time is short. This creates a fear of losing out, and, once emotional, the brain’s response centre can fall apart, logic is shut down, and hey presto they have your bank details and money.

Another is to simply get you to click a link by sending you an email from a friend which then hijacks your computer. Hover over any email address that comes in and you will see if it’s really from the real person as it will ghost up.

Ask their name and contact details and say you will be calling back in a few days after speaking to your solicitor or the police. Breathe in for seven seconds and out for eleven for a while. That will engage your parasympathetic nervous system rather than fight or flight. But, speak to your partner or family. They will be emotionally disengaged and see through any scam.

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Tags: , Last modified: December 22, 2022

Written by 2:50 pm News & Views