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In My Opinion, Most Scam Victims are Naive, Not Stupid

by Brett M. Christensen

When I publish an article about a phishing, advance fee, or job scam, I often receive comments along the lines of “If anyone is stupid enough to fall for that, they deserve to be ripped off!”

Personally, I think that attitude is too harsh and is certainly not an accurate reflection of the average victim’s intellect.

Doing this work, I have had the opportunity to communicate with a great many Internet scam victims. And I can assure you that most of the scam victims I have talked to are not at all dumb or stupid.

In fact, scam victims come from all walks of life. Many are well educated. Many are experts or professionals within their chosen fields of endeavour. Many are wise and knowledgeable about a range of different subjects. They cover a range of ages and ethnic backgrounds.

I think it would be fair to say that your average scam victim is likely to be naive when it comes to the nefarious activities of online scammers and about computer security in general. But being naive is considerably different to being dumb or stupid.

Technology is an ever more ubiquitous facet of our everyday lives. Not only are more and more people starting to use computers, existing users are doing more and more computer related activities. Thus, there is always a very large pool of potential victims for the criminals to target. Why are they potential victims? Mostly because they simply have not been effectively educated about how to avoid scams and how to practise safe computing.

Sneering at victims and berating them for their stupidity as a distressingly large portion of computer savvy people seem to do, is – in my opinion at least – unfair and unhelpful. If every computer savvy person out there took just a few minutes to ensure that his or her own friends and family were up to speed with basic scam detection techniques and general computer security methods, then, over time, we could probably create a significantly safer Internet,

Of course, we probably all know a few people who simply won’t be told and will not even attempt to educate themselves or take advice from more experienced users. Dealing with such individuals can certainly be frustrating. Even so, I hate the thought of some grubby little scammer getting an undeserved payday from one of these people, even if they have brought victimhood on themselves to a degree.


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Brett Christensen