Scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists have a knowledge of psychology that Freud would have envied.  They know how to appeal to every human emotion to lure us into becoming a scam victim.  Scam artists can adapt their art to paint whatever picture they sense will make us vulnerable to their con.  They know how to appeal to our own particular weaknesses and psychological makeup.

They appeal to whatever works.  They construct a network of “people like us” whom we trust; they trumpet legitimate and impressive-sounding business connections; they appeal to our fears; they appeal to our friendship; they appeal to our optimism; they appeal to our desire for quick and easy solutions to life’s problems;  they appeal to our generosity; and they appeal to our greed.

Some scams can be so sophisticated that they can be hard to recognize, so how can you identify a scam before it is too late?


One of the best ways of determining if you are involved with a scam is how the scammer requests payment.

If they ask for payment through a gift card, it is definitely a scam.  No legitimate business transaction asks for payment by gift cards.  No governmental agency accepts gift cards as payments.

If they send you a check for more than what is owed you and ask you under a variety of different pretexts to deposit the check and wire the excess money back to them, it is a scam.  The overpayment check scam is used in many different scams, but it always ends up with the victim depositing the legitimate appearing check, getting provisional credit in the victim’s account, wiring money from the account and then having the counterfeit check bounce, the provisional credit rescinded and the money wired from the victim’s own funds in the account gone forever.

If they require payment by a wire from Western Union or other similar companies it is also a red flag that you are dealing with a scam.  Wired payments are quick and easy for the scammer to maintain his or her anonymity.

If they ask you to go to a Cryptocurrency ATM and buy cryptocurrency and use a QR code to send it to the scammer’s account, it is a scam.

If they demand Zelle or Venmo for a business transaction, it is a scam.

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