By exploiting an inherent way we process information, scammers make it hard for victims to say no. To appeal to people’s emotions, scammers do things that either initiate a sense of trust or assume a sense of trust with, say, the person reading a scam text, said Assoc Prof Joyce Pang, Head of Psychology at the School of Social Sciences, NTU Singapore.
For instance, addressing the recipient with “Dear” implies a previous communication even if it wasn’t the case. “The use of this language creates a prior relationship and a sense of trust and intimacy in the reader's mind, which makes them more likely to believe the content of the scam text,” said Prof Pang. She also pointed out that some people who are vulnerable to scams are also lonely and lack social support – “so they not only don’t have the necessary social network to share information with them, they are also emotionally vulnerable. So the promise of a continuing relationship and communication is as important as the potential positive reward”.
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