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The Con: How Scams Work, Why You're Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself

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by James Munton & Jelita McLeod
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The Con: How Scams Work, Why You're Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself by James Munton & Jelita McLeod

#2 in Social Science bestsellers
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No one thinks it can happen to them, but Americans are 40 times more likely to be defrauded than to have their cars stolen or their homes burgled. Con artists ruin people financially and emotionally, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction, broken hearts, and deflated dreams.

The first step to combating fraud is to understand it. What do scams look like? Why are they effective? The next step is to take action. How can we protect ourselves and our families?

The Con: How Scams Work, Why You're Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself informs and engages with accessible stories of ordinary people from all walks of life thrown into unexpected and disorienting circumstances. The ebook goes behind the scenes of real-world cons to examine the logistics and psychology that enable scams to succeed. The goal is to help people understand and recognize deception, and in the same way that they avoid other potentially dangerous situations, take a detour. Once readers gain a clear idea of what scams look and sound like and learned simple strategies to reduce personal risk, protecting themselves will be just as instinctive as putting on a seat belt.

How widespread is the problem of fraud?
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that more than 30 million Americans a year fall victim to fraud, with nearly 50 million reported incidents of consumer fraud.
  • Americans are 40 times more likely to be defrauded than to have their cars stolen or their homes burgled.
  • A 2010 identity theft survey conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research revealed that 11 million Americans were victims of identity theft, to the tune of $54 billion.
  • The American Bankers Association reports increases in nearly every area of fraud covered in its annual survey, including more than 760,000 cases of check fraud and debit card fraud totaling $788 million.
  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, solicits complaints in the area of cybercrime. In its most recent annual Internet Crime Report, IC3 noted that complaint submissions had increased by more than 22 percent, with losses reported at nearly $560 million.
Why don’t people take it more seriously?

Scams are still often viewed as peripheral crimes. Becoming a victim of fraud doesn’t seem as scary as being mugged. There’s usually no sense of immediate danger or a threat to physical safety. Con artists target their victims in a myriad of ways. Unlike the mugger, whose strategy will generally involve approaching a victim, demanding money, perhaps brandishing a weapon, the scammer will employ stealth tactics, duplicity, disguise, whatever it takes to lower your defenses.

In most cases, a scam is not immediately identifiable as a crime. The con can take the form of a business proposal, a romantic relationship, or an urgent appeal. It may come camouflaged as good news or the very worst news. And unlike a physical attack, victims may not even realize a crime has been committed until long after the swindle has taken place. Similarly, scammers themselves do not fit any single demographic profile.

Many are under the mistaken assumption that scams are somehow “victimless” crimes if the individuals targeted are not held liable for the monetary losses or if they receive restitution from the criminals.

What are the telltale signs of a scam?

Scams come in all shapes and sizes, but there are central elements that are common to most cons. Warning signs include:

  • High-pressure sales tactics.
  • A push to act quickly.
  • Secrecy.
  • Request to wire money.
  • Request for personal information.
  • Promise of large rewards.
  • Absence of sound documentation and verification.
"Career magician and identity theft expert Munton teams with writer McLeod to deliver this fascinating, informative, and highly entertaining primer on the various ways the uninitiated may find themselves ripped off by a con artist. Filled with personal stories (told in hindsight, of course), the cautionary tales have a common thread: it could happen to anyone--be they financially struggling college student, good Samaritan, single mom, or scientist. Munton and McLeod's featured narratives include people who have been conned by a new romantic interest or led astray by greed, curiosity, or basic inattentiveness. Rather than inducing paranoia, Munton and McLeod stress the importance of critical thinking when it comes to our money, identities, and time. For example, Munton schools readers on how to recognize a Ponzi scheme and cautions against giving out a social security number without serious consideration; in most instances, the receiving party doesn't need the social security number at all. This book will help people recognize a credible opportunity when it presents itself, and avoid those "opportunities" that don't pass muster." - Publishers Weekly

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Ebook Details
Pages: 190
Size: 1.1 MB
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Date published:  Aug 2011
ISBN: 2370003470383 (DRM-PDF)

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This product is listed in the following categories:

Gambling > Cheating, Scams & Protection
Nonfiction > Social Science > Criminology

These authors have products in the following categories:

Gambling > Cheating, Scams & Protection
Nonfiction > Social Science > Criminology
Nonfiction > Social Science > Violence in Society

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