More than one in four people lost money to fraud in 2021 to an ad, message, or post on social media, according to a report by the US Federal Trade Commission (FDA).
And “get rich quick” schemes are one of the many scams successfully circulating the internet, including the high-profile accusations against Andrew Tate’s “Hustler’s University” which has reportedly seen a $4 million monthly profit.
Wanting to avoid further victims being caught out, experts at Scams.info teamed up with psychologists Kelly Cookson and Anna Sergeant, to help us understand why we fall for these schemes and how we can avoid them.
Commenting on the psychology behind scams successes, Cookson notes:
As human beings we are drawn to the idea of overnight success. We love to hear stories of people who have “made it” in business and when the success is quick and with seemingly little effort, it’s even more attractive to us.
Failure isn’t the sexy part of entrepreneurship and to the inexperienced entrepreneur, it doesn't sell online memberships, coaching, or courses quite as effectively as photos of Lamborghinis and private jets.
People that were financially secure before the current economic crisis may be easier to prey on to scammers as they are used to a certain standard of life. They may believe that after experiencing financial adversity: 'I deserve to be lucky finally'.”
Anna Sergent agrees and also comments on the difficulty of spotting scams:
If the scheme is embellished with smart language and marketing hacks people are more bound to believe it. For example, scammers may present fake or distorted stories of people who took part in similar schemes and got rich quickly.
You see a seemingly real person and you want to be that person through identification. Perhaps even something about that person is relatable to you.”
So, how do we spot and avoid falling for scams online?
Expert Tips to Spot Scams
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
76% of people in the UK desire a more flexible approach to working life, which is one of the hard-to-turn-down benefits of 'get-rich-quick' scams. These scams typically offer an investment plan with high profit returns but unfortunately there is no shortcut to achieving such high incomes without hard work.
If you feel like you have been given an offer you cannot refuse, ensure to read the fine-print of their products/services before making any final decisions.
Be cautious of upfront payment fees
Since March 2020, there has been a 900% increase in advance fee fraud, in which case scammers ask for an upfront fee in return for the promise of employment or wealth, with no intention in acting upon this.
It is uncommon for a legitimate company to ask a potential employee to provide any payment as a part of their recruitment process.
Always recognize false reviews and testimonials
A 2021 report declared that 93% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews. This is a cause for concern given that scammers will often create false, positive reviews and customer testimonials describing the ‘success’ of joining their network.
When determining whether these are legitimate, pay attention to their structure and wording - if they appear to be duplicates of each other, then they are more than likely not to be trusted.
Be mindful of deceptive recruitment methods
It has become increasingly common for legitimate employers to use online platforms to contact potential candidates, with 91% stating they use social media as part of their recruitment process. However, this has also allowed social platforms to become a hub for scammers.
To avoid falling into the trap, put your social media accounts on to a private setting and do not engage in messages sent by people you do not know - if you are still unsure, look at their account to see when their account was created, what they post and their followers as these will be key indicators in determining the legitimacy of their account.