I am very pleased to publish a guest article by a fraud and scam analyst/fighter on the TEV Blog. The author lives in Eastern Asia (we studied in the same city in Europe though) and publishes his research papers on Academia.edu. To go along with this blog’s name, he chose to publish under the pseudonym The Asian View. For him it is a bit of fun, for the TEV Blog a great honor, making it a win-win for both of us.
Silent Mail and the Wall View
In Japanese basketball, you learn first defense, the rest comes of its own. The reason is easy: this way you learn to become being more creative in offense, too. Because in training you play against your own, and if you face such hard defense otherwise, your score remains null.
Defense is more important than offense: it’s easier to lose something than to win something. The same occurs in investment. Therefore, we talk about tricks how you can get defrauded.
The two most important tricks scammers use come from stage. These are Silent Mail (Chinese Whisers) and Wall View (Teichoscopy) to communicate ongoing events to victims. You could also call them “plot lines”.
Silent Mail means gossip: I tell you what I have heard. Wall View means binoculars: I tell you what I have seen, or what you see.
The victim does only see what the culprit describes to him, chews up for him. On this basis, it imagines and believes that the culprit’s description represents present. Truth. The victim only hears what the culprit tells him. On this basis, it believes unchecked, or on basis of what the perpetrator has presented and interpreted as “evidence”. You believe him, it’s true.
The drama evolves from this, whereupon the victim reacts to the culprit’s suggestion by depositing money and the drama continues. From then on, everything else emerges from improvisation.
But how is it possible that Silent Mail and the Wall View have such an effect on adults?
The ABC of fraud – 5 techniques that are mainly used
There are 5 techniques that are mainly used to commit fraud. These are: Reciprocity, scarcity, source credibility, phantom rich and social consensus. These are the basics of fraud, and anyone who has internalised them is pretty well equipped to get less scammed in future.
Reciprocity means that someone does me a favour, so I feel obliged to do them a favour in return. For example, someone invites me to dinner, offers me a freebie or kickbacks, or does something else that is cheaper for him than my reciprocation for me.
This approach is also called a “Trojan horse” in Greek or “exchanging a brick for a jade stone” in Chinese. And this also shows that reciprocity is older than the Golden Rule, which in Christian terms underlies the matter: treat another as you would expect him to treat you. Reciprocity is a universal concept.
Reciprocity builds on moral sentiment and is exploited by fraudsters in their favour.
Scarcity means that something is perceived as valuable because it is only available in limited quantities. It is scarce. This includes time-limited special offers or bonuses that are only valid here, now, immediately. But it can also be something material like a piece of art, a new Playstation 5 or an RTX3080 graphics card for mining Bitcoins.
Scarcity is always associated with time pressure, with the feeling that you will make a loss if you miss the opportunity now. And fraudsters remind you of this regularly.
Source credibility means that people are status symbol- and authority-obsessed. They are impressed by bling-bling. This includes expensive cars, exclusive addresses, certain titles such as CEO, doctor, manager, etc. and everything associated with it.
Source credibility pursues the goal of increasing one’s own credibility. One distracts from the business at hand because customers ask less in light of symbols and titles. They don’t want to jeopardise their chance of doing business with the authority who stands above them. At the same time, it would be rude to ask a superior too many questions – a crosscut to reciprocity.
Phantom rich is also based on faith in sources: the customer is presented with things that are virtually already his property: hot cars, flashy jewelry, smartphones, watches. If you use hashtags at Facebook like #binary options as example, you get overwhelmed by posts containing people from all over the world posing with new expensive cars they allegedly gained from trading profits. All fake.
Phantom rich aims to get clients to focus on success rather than the road to it. They shall only think about what they’re going to do with the money and tick off the investment as the last annoying step to get rich.
Phantom rich also aim to make the victim not ask so much.
Social consensus means that you’re neither the first nor an exception in what you do. Others have already done it – preferably celebrities or people you know or are related to. Perpetrators point to these pioneers of fortune because no one wants to be the first soldier of fortune in innovative investment – the fear to lose is too strong.
Social consensus means, in short, that you are not the first who invest. Others you know have already done it, so it’s your turn now to become successful like them. Because if others do it too, it’s more likely to be right; no one wants to be left behind and no one wants to be sole if s/he loses. Better losing together.
Apart from that, there are several further tactics that are known under the term “compliance without pressure”. These include techniques such as “foot-in-the-door”, “door-in-the-face” or “low ball”.
Foot in the door & “Door-in-the-face”
Foot in the door means that I ask someone for little at the beginning and get it. In this way, I build up an initial (business) relationship on the basis of which I can later increasingly request and receive more.
“Door-in-the-face” thus means that at the beginning one asks for something impossible, which will
automatically be rejected by the other one, in order to then ask for something smaller, which one only wanted to obtain from the beginning. Because those who deny usually feel uneasy towards the person to whom they said “no”. And to ease their bad feelings because of this, they presumably say “yes” to a smaller, more realistic request.
Lowball means that I ask for a low price and you beat it, or you ask for a low price and I beat it, but in both cases, I reserve the right to change the price if something unforeseen happens. For example, my boss disagrees with the price.
Lowball says that if I let customers stew in their bargain for some time in their mind and for whatever reason reject it afterward and demand a higher price, the customer is quite likely to accept the price change because mentally the things have already become its property that s/he doesn’t want to lose any more.
Lowball is more effective than foot-in-the-door because in the latter case you still need two independent decisions ( even if the second one is easier for you), whereas in lowball the decision has already been made and is only confirmed one more time. The only thing that is needed is a rationale that the customer will swallow.
This prevents reactance from arising, as it does with foot-in-the-door, i.e. the customer feels tricked and used. Because the salesperson gives an explanation for the higher price that is beyond both his and the customer’s control: the boss, on the other hand, is to blame, and everybody knows bosses: they will probably blame the poor salesman for screwing the deal – the reader probably now knows where this is going.
About the author:
The Asian View is a European fraud fighter based in Eastern Asia with a focus on consumer fraud and fundamental investment scams.
If you want to learn more about fraud, I can recommend reading the two articles “Understanding Fraud: financial rape” and “Understanding Fraud: emotional abuse“.
Find more of The Asian View’s insights and research on Academia.edu.