The psychology of scams: Provoking and committing errors of judgement
Lea, Stephen E. G.
Evans, Kath M.
Consultancy projects / reports
Office of Fair Trading
Copyright of the Office of Fair Trading. All rights reserved
According to the Office of Fair Trading (2006), 3.2 million adults in the UK fall victim to mass marketed scams every year, and collectively lose £3.5 billion. Victims of scams are often labelled as 'greedy' or 'gullible' and elicit the reaction, 'How on earth could anyone fall for that?' However, such labels are unhelpful and superficial generalisations that presume all of us are perfectly rational consumers, ignoring the fact that all of us are vulnerable to a persuasive approach at one time or another. Clearly, responding to a scam is an error of judgement – so our research sought to identify the main categories of decision error that typify victim responses, and to understand the psychology of persuasion employed by scammers to try to provoke such errors.
UK Office of Fair Trading
Office of Fair Trading (2009). The psychology of scams. London: Author