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Outsmarting the Scam Artists: How to Protect Yourself From the Most Clever Cons


Praise for Outsmarting the Scam Artists

"Outsmarting the Scam Artists takes the playbooks from a dozen colorful villains and turns them into an entertaining and easy-to-read tutorial on how to protect yourself from fraud. A terrific, readable book!" —Jane Bryant Quinn, financial writer and author of the bestsellerMaking the Most of Your Money Now

"Are you into The Grifters and Spenser? Do you cherish Raymond Chandler? This is a nonfiction treatment on 'the con' industry that deserves a place in the mystery bookstore; beyond that, it's a primer on how not to get conned yourself."—Paco Underhill, author of the bestseller Why We Buy

"Time after time when I was attorney general, I saw heartbreaking stories of people being scammed out of savings by sophisticated con men. In today's digital age, it's smart for both older Americans and their families to verse themselves in the topic with a book like this."—Christine Gregoire, Governor, State of Washington

"For over a decade, researchers have been trying to understand how con men get consumers to hand over their hard-earned money. This remarkable book combines findings from behavioral science with the con men's own stories to bring us provocative new insights that can greatly reduce the chance of being victimized. It is a must-read for everyone interested in protecting themselves or joining the fight against financial exploitation." —Laura Carstensen, PhD, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and author of A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health, and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity

"Outsmarting the Scam Artists does something remarkable, providing a simultaneously insightful, informative, and engaging account from the front lines of deceptive persuasion. For their protection, I want everyone in my family to read this book."—Robert B. Cialdini, author of the bestseller Influence: Science and Practice

"Outsmarting the Scam Artists offers a fascinating look at how fraud schemes work from the perspective of the cons who perpetrate them. These veteran fraudsters offer up secrets about who they target, what tactics they employ, and how you can inoculate yourself from harm. Anyone whom cares about his or her own financial security will benefit from reading this book."—Gerri Walsh, President, FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation

Acknowledgments ix

Preface xi

Part I The Scam Artists’ Playbook

Chapter 1 Inside the Con Artist’s Mind 3

Chapter 2 Ether: The Con Artist’s Central Strategy 19

Chapter 3 The Stages of Fraud 29

Part II Con Artists in Action

Chapter 4 Exploiting Ego: The Oil-and-Gas Scam 49

Chapter 5 Exploiting Faith: The Religious Ponzi Scam 63

Chapter 6 Exploiting Fear: The Gold Coin Scam 77

Chapter 7 Exploiting Boredom: The Movie Scam 85

Chapter 8 Exploiting the American Dream: The Business Opportunity Scam 93

Chapter 9 Exploiting Hope: The Lottery Scam 107

Chapter 10 Exploiting Credit: An Interview with an Identity Thief 117

Part III How to Fight Fraud

Chapter 11 Who Are the Victims? 129

Chapter 12 Become a Fraud Fighter 145

Chapter 13 Fraud Prevention That Works 159

Appendix A The Fraud-Vulnerability Quiz 173

Appendix B Fraud-Prevention Resource List 177

Notes 181

About the Author 185

Index 187