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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:55 am 
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Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 6:08 am
Posts: 16
Location: Exeter, UK
Pennywise wrote:
That number of 25000 is not realistic at all. Many of those signed up ...
...
You say scambaiting is valuable cause it brings joy to many victims. Baiters claim to do it cause by wasting scammers time, they prevent them from targetting real victims, but aren't they in fact adding to thge problem? A victim scammed wants revenge. Why wouldn't a scammer baited wants the same? It sure will not make him feel sorry for his next victim.

I am not talking about this victim support site, cause it is different, but most seem to be stuck in their own feeling of being right and know how support has to be given. Isn't it true that amateur psychologists cause more harm then good?

BTW, baiting isn't that dangerous. The deaths you mention aren't baiters.


Hi Pennywise,
Scambaiters would add to the problem only if scammers would have stopped otherwise - since from their perspective, scamming is lucrative, with or without existence of scambaiters, I wouldn't think scambaiting increases the likelihood of somebody receiving a fraudulent offer in their email. It won't make them sorry for the next victim one way or the other, that is for sure. They will continue to rationalize their behavior (i.e. only greedy people fall for scams, smart people are immune, they can afford to give their money away, etc).

As far as amateur psychologists go, that is my pet peeve anyway and in general. I have no issue with either support or self-help groups, but when the line between support and therapy blurs, then I do have an issue, yes. I have an even bigger issue with "friendly advice", mainly because I did work both in a psychiatric institution and in a private setting and my experience is that the client/patient usually gets screwed by inexpert help. Once the situation is really dire, they come to people like me, who face a lot more work in helping to fix the things that were relatively easily fixable before the person followed well-meaning, but nevertheless wrong, advice. Sometimes, things are not satisfactorily fixable after the fact at all (for example somebody who is slowly drifting into psychosis and is told that they should really stand up for themselves and understand that as a permission to beat her children to the point where it leaves lasting marks, because they didn't want to go to sleep at bedtime. If you don't understand how the mind works, don't mess with it, is what I am saying. Funnily enough, at that point, people who were full of advice before suddenly go quiet and stop answering calls. And then to my everlasting joy, I get to speak to the mother in a psychiatric clinic and explain to them why they'll be staying with us, and why that nice person from social services is taking the kids away for good). Now don't start with victim blaming, this is all solvable in a way where the kids don't get hurt and don't lose their mother in the process (which in turn doesn't leave them an impression that it's their fault that they can't stay with their mother anymore).

You see, there are two points where friendly advice can fail - 1) when the person giving the advice has no experience whatsoever with what they are dealing with, and just play it by heart, which may work for them, but certainly doesn't work for everybody. They might also mistake their personal experience with a certain issue to be grounds for a good general advice (for example if you are quite timid and have once in your life stood up for yourself to a great outcome, you still shouldn't encourage a serial rapist to not listen to anyone else and just follow their heart). 2) connected to the first one, when the person fails to see the warning signs or misinterprets them because they judge everybody to be just like them. Both of those sometimes work OK and leave no outward damage which in turn empowers the person to fancy themselves the go-to mental guru, so to speak (if you have a problem, just talk to me, everybody else does it). This might work for a while, but there will certainly come a point when people are out of their depth (which also happens to 'real' therapists, don't get me wrong, but at least we have any numbers of external mechanisms to help us cope. And, importantly we are equipped to recognize this, when it happens). Once out of their depth, people either shy away from the problem, leaving the client/patient to pick up the pieces (bad), or steam roller on, into the unknown, after all how bad could it be, right? (worse). Well, it can be as bad as you can imagine and then some more. Mainly because if a lay person can actually imagine it and still goes ahead with it, they are probably a psychopath (i.e. don't care if somebody else suffers. Might also enjoy it. Same applies for being overconfident - it is easy to be overconfident about somebody else's future. If it works, then fine, if it doesn't, well, they'll face the consequences, is also an anti-social trait).

Let me point out that, like I said before, I think that there is a real need for support and self-help groups out there, but there is also a responsibility attached to offering that kind of service, one that shouldn't be brushed away. I would say that the main function of such groups is to listen. Offering an opinion is also fine, sharing of experiences too. Lay therapy, absolutely not. I am saying that it is OK to say: "That sucks. I experienced a similar thing - here is what happened to me." It is still OK to say: "Now here is how I dealt with it, but please bear in mind that this might not work for you and that I am not saying you should do any of this. I am merely telling you what worked for me. If you want to follow any of this, please talk it over with somebody who is a)uninvolved and b)knows how to deal with those kinds of issues. It certainly helped me to do it. A phone number of somebody, whom I had previous good experiences with, is in your mailbox". It is definitely NOT OK to say: "Wow, that sucks, and here is what you should do..." or "Mhm, sure, sure, let me tell you what your problem is..." or "Stop talking, nobody cares. Let me tell you a real story of hardship now" or "You fool, it is all your fault, stop whining and get a life" or "You handled it all wrong, here is what you should have done"

As far as scambaiting not being dangerous, it is about as dangerous as crank calling a mafia boss (419 scams are certainly perpetrated by organized crime groups). Not inherently life threatening by itself, but the person should be aware what the possible consequences could be (by the time you find a horses head in your bed it's already too late :P).

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:33 am
Posts: 123
I do not think scambaiting increases the likelihood of somebody receiving a fraudulent offer in their email, but neither does it decrease it. Basically it is nothing more than fun at the expense of others, only in this case the "other" happens to be a criminal. Strangely enough scambaiters claim never to bait innocent people, which for a fact is not only hard to believe, but untrue as well. When scammers mass mail it is fraudulent, when baiters do it, it is for a good cause. I do not have a problem with baiting, but I do not like the self righteousness they use to explain their actions, or the way they boast about them. The language used in talking about scammers would be considered racism in any other way.

I think there is a third point where friendly advice can fail. I am not talking about this forum, but I have seen several that treat every victim the same way. It is their golden rule and their are no exceptions to it.

Thank you for your time and your willingness to explain. Now do you have the number of that mafia boss for me? :P

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:33 pm
Posts: 3
Hi :)


I'm Robert from the thera... from the support forum over at www.fraudwatchers.org and noticed the link to this thread. I've been and worked in the anti-419 scene (and a couple other assorted cybercrimes) on different topics and levels for quite a few years. As I studied psychology myself im delighted to finally see a discussion about this topic (I actually thought about writing my thesis about it). I'll think about some questions to the expert here. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:34 am 
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Robert Steinmann wrote:
I'll think about some questions to the expert here. :)


I'll try to asnswer them :P

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:26 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 10:09 pm
Posts: 2921
Robert Steinmann wrote:
Hi :)
I'm Robert from the thera... from the support forum over at http://www.fraudwatchers.org and noticed the link to this thread. I've been and worked in the anti-419 scene (and a couple other assorted cybercrimes) on different topics and levels for quite a few years. As I studied psychology myself im delighted to finally see a discussion about this topic (I actually thought about writing my thesis about it). I'll think about some questions to the expert here. :)


Glad to have you here. I think FraudWatchers is a great site . . . I have been there several times.

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:21 pm
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I too have wondered knowing someone who does it first hand. It bogles my mind he can even wake up in the morning. And to top it off he comes from a well educated affluent family.


I worked for a short time for someone claiming to be a lawyer for family law. Turned out he took money from poor families who needed legitimate help and never did a thing for them. He now has created a fake non-profit called exwam.com. I created exwam.org to help show who he really is. If there is anything you can do to help get the word out so he can't do this again.

you can google the phrases Edward Herzstock Scam or visit my page www.ewwam.org to see what i have found.

Thank you


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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:33 pm
Posts: 3
@David (I hope he's still reading this thread?)

Quote:
Yes, exactly. There is a viewpoint that a scam is exactly like a marketing offer, except for one crucial detail - it is illegitimate. So all the rules of marketing apply (positioning, eliciting trust, misdirection, injection of artificial needs...) - after all, a scammer is trying to sell us something, just like legitimate advertisers.


The best example of this and my "favourite" cyberscam are fake chinese sellers of high-priced electronics/textiles and so on because their "approach" is quite the opposite
compared to 419scammers. All they have do is to advertise their shops on trading websites. The victims come to them, make an order, pay the goods and that's it (funnily, nobody blames the victims of these scams. Probably because the story is more authentic) whereas 419scammers often make use of lengthy email conversations that include various characters, locations, people etc.


I've read gazillions of scam emails and have been in touch with countless numbers of Victims (of numerous different cyberscams while working as a support group member on Fraudwatchers.Org. Back in the old days the types of advance fee fraud were overseeable but today the scams come in many different shapes and colours (and so do the victims and the scammers).

It seems natural that we try to see the reason of a successful scam in the victims personality ("How on earth can you fall for such a scam?") but I think that this is because we see (most of the times) the outcome of the scam only at the end, once the victim has been scammed and comes forward or once a possible victim discovered that it was about to be scammed and so we "carry" the the reasons "ex-post-facto" onto the victims persona. Falling for a scam is still a rare occurence and can not be attached to personality traits. If it would be possible to single out other variables (such as the financial background, social background, knowledge, age, etc.) we would probably see that there's very little left (maybe nothing?). Looking back to all the victims I've encountered I find it impossible to determine what it is that all of them have in common. Maybe that they indeed fell just for an advertisement?

One thing that looks contrary to the advertisement analogy (and opposed to almost all other cyberscams) is the fact that there is a lot of social interaction between the scammer and the victim. Some of the scammers are very experienced and/or very intelligent and they seem to know what button they've to push in the victims mind to make it pay the money. How does the targets person personality interact with the other factors?

Anyway, what I really wanted was to ask David about the techniques that the scammers use and their results. The really good scammers (long story short) try to establish some sort of trustworthy relationship to the future victim. I remember one case where the scammer waited for months(!) before he asked for the first amount of money. Once this is successfull, they apply pressure by asking for more while basically telling the victim that they're sooooo close to get the millions of dollars (and say that if they don't do this that this and that happens etc...). This may last months or even years, if the victim has access to a lot of money. The scammer brings in new twists and stories, applies new pressure on all fronts. Often victims would deny their involvement in the scam, probably because they feel guilty? Alternatively they may become angry when they're being approached. In the last stages of these worst cases (I've seen too many of these), these people turn at the end into victims that we describe as "brainwashed", "victims for life" (the scammers call them "maga for life") etc. They're at the end of their financial capabailities, all their life seems to turn around the next payment for the scam. They're isolated from other aspects of life and -the most frustrating part for support people like us- it is practically impossible to convince them that they're being scammed, it is not possible to help them in any way . Even presenting them the evidence and showing them their condition on a golden plate is useless. In the very last stage the victim is sucked in so deeply that the scammer does not even has to apply pressure. He just tells the victim to wire the money.
Another colleague once suggested that this may be some sort of cognitive dissonance that became pathological.
David, with your expertise in victimology: Could you explain the aformentioned techniques by the scammer and their outcome in the victims head in (psychologic terms)?

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 Post subject: Re: Giving the chance to speak up
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:33 am
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Stockholm Syndrome

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