The Psychological Tricks of COVID-19 Scammers

The Psychological Tricks of COVID-19 Scammers

By Author Sari Harrar

*Note: I found this in a recent issue of AARP Magazine and credit the author with this article.

With million isolated by the virus, more people are vulnerable to deception.

Scan artists will stop at nothing to exploit the fear, social isolation and uncertainty fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. “People are more vulnerable emotionally than ever,” says psychologist Stacey Wood, a professor at Scripps College in California. “That makes it easier to fall for the increasing number of scams out there.”

According to AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, criminals are preying on this new vulnerability with everything from fake work-at-home jobs and fraudulent charities to money-seeking romance schemers lurking on dating sites. Other scammers include government impostors who are targeting your stimulus check. How do they do it? Here are six psychological tactics scammers don’t want you to know about.

A friendly voice:

Before the coronavirus, 1 in 4 older adults were socially isolated; today that number is far higher. “When you’re lonely, a friendly voice on the phone or a friendly message on social media seems like a real bright spot,” says Emily Allen, a senior vice president for programs at AARP Foundation. Scammers use information they’ve gleaned about you online to strengthen the bond. They shower you with compliments and get you to like them in order to make you more willing to believe their lies.

Official sounding sources:

“In uncertain times, we rely more than ever on what other people tell us. Scammers may falsely identify themselves as being from the IRS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” says Robert Ciadini, regents emeritus professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. “This misquote or make up advice from expects. And they creative fake organizations that sound impressive, to fool you.”

Using your intelligence against you:

“Some people get drawn in when scammers compliment their intelligence and ability to understand a so-called opportunity,” Cialdini says. “Others think they’re smarter than a scammer and can spot a phony. Research shows that, among older adults, those who think they’re the most invulnerable to persuasion are most likely to fall for scam artists.”

Helping in hard times:

Schemes involving fake charities, online romantic partners in need and grandchildren marooned away from home without cash are nothing new. But they’re heating up as people yearn for ways to help others and as job losses and travel restrictions make scammers’ stories sound more believable than ever, Wood says.

Relieving your new anxieties:

Job loss, stock market tumbles, scary virus risks…scammers are manipulating your fears in these uncertain times with your fears in these uncertain times with too good to be true “opportunities” like fake work at home offers, bogus investment schemes and phony, chances to buy face masks, hand sanitizer, coronavirus tests and fake remedies.

You gotta act now!:

Goading you to either make a fast decision or miss out on scarce supplies or a new job plays on today’s anxieties, Wood says. “When you’re fearful or stressed, you’re more likely to make impulsive decisions,” she says. “Scammers know this.”

Four ways to turn the tables:

*Cut them off: toss, delete or hand up on unsolicited offers. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the caller ID. Don’t click on links or provide personal info requested in an email.

*End suspicious online friendships: this is not the time to trust strangers no matter how nice they seem, in fact, scammers are professionals at being ‘nice’. Put on your toughest filters and cut off contact the moment someone you don’t know well asks for info or financial help.

*Cultivate your real friendship: be in frequent touch with family, friends and neighbors who can be sounding boards on unusual offers. Visit connect2affect.org to assess how much social isolation and distancing are affecting your mental and physical health. AARP’s Allen says.

*Do your homework: if someone claims they’re from the IRS or your bank, call to verify. Visit aarp.org/scams to learn about the latest coronavirus scams.

Disclaimer: This article came from the June 2020 issue of AARP by author Sari Harrar and I give the author full credit for the article and it subject matter. Please be careful in these uncertain times.

About jwatrel

I am a free-lance writer and Blogger. I am the author of the book "Firehouse 101" (IUniverse.com 2005) part of trilogy of books centered in New York City. My next book "Love Triangles" is finished being edited and should be ready for release in the Fall. My latest book, "Dinner at Midnight", a thriller is on its last chapter. My long awaited book explains the loss of the 2004 Yankee game to Boston. I work as a Consultant, Adjunct College Professor, Volunteer Fireman and Ambulance member and Blogger. I have a blog site for caregivers called 'bergencountycaregiver', a step by step survival guide to all you wonderful folks taking care of your loved ones, a walking project to walk every block, both sides, of the island of Manhattan "MywalkinManhattan" and discuss what I see and find on the streets of New York and three sites to accompany it. One is an arts site called "Visiting a Museum", where I showcase small museums, historical sites and parks that are off the beaten track both in Manhattan and outside the city to cross reference with "MywalkinManhattan" blog site. Another is "DiningonaShoeStringNYC", featuring small restaurants I have found on my travels in this project, that offer wonderful meals for $10.00 and under. So be on the lookout for updates on all three sites and enjoy 'MywalkinManhattan'. The third is my latest site, "LittleShoponMainStreet", which showcases all the unique and independent shops that I have found on my travels throughout and around Manhattan. I have started two new blog sites for the fire department, one "EngineOneHasbrouck HeightsFireDepartmentnj" for the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department to discuss what our Engine Company is doing and the other is "BergenCountyFireman'sHomeAssociation" for the Bergen County Fireman's Association, which fire fighters from Bergen County, NJ, go to the Fireman's Home in Boonton, NJ to bring entertainment and cheer to our fellow brother fire fighters quarterly.
This entry was posted in AARP Programming, COVID-19 Information, Fraud Programming, Men's Programming, New Jersey Senior Programming, New Jersey State Program, Programs Preventing Mind-Hacking, Senior Services, Uncategorized, Woman's Programming and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Psychological Tricks of COVID-19 Scammers

  1. jwatrel says:

    Please don’t lose trust in people wanting to help but always keep your guard up. These are very uncertain times.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s