Every time I publish an article about a scam attempt, there are at least a few comments suggesting that if people are dumb enough to fall for such a trick, they DESERVE to be scammed. Look, I get it. It’s frustrating to see people get taken in by posts or emails that we instantly recognise as scam attempts. And it IS difficult to understand how people can fall for really transparent scams. It’s easy just to label the victims as ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ and move on. I do understand why people might have that attitude.
But, as I discuss in another article, scam victims are certainly not always dumb. They may be naive, have gaps in their knowledge, be poorly educated through no fault of their own, or simply be vulnerable to scammers due to age, lack of life experience, or a variety of other reasons. Perhaps you disagree with me? Many do on this point.
Nevertheless, I believe that there are good reasons why you might want to rethink the ‘deserve to be scammed’ attitude anyway.
Even if you do think scam victims deserve it, do you also believe that the criminals who perpetrate these scams deserve to reap the benefits of their nefarious actions? Because it can certainly be argued that one idea equates to the other. If you think a person deserves to be ripped off, then you are in a sense giving tacit approval to the conduct of the grubby little crooks who do the ripping off. These people deserve nothing more than lengthy stints in prison and the contempt and condemnation of the Internet communities they operate in.
Because of the ‘deserve to be scammed’ attitude that seems so prevalent on social media, many scam victims are loath to tell their stories. Given that actual real life stories from victims will often have more worth as cautionary tales than any number of carefully crafted warning articles, the understandable reluctance of scam victims to publicly tell their stories is unfortunate indeed. So, the ‘deserve to be scammed’ attitude actually plays into the hands of the criminals by keeping scam victims silent and thereby making it less likely that potential victims have the information they need to avoid being conned.
At one point, I was operating a section of Hoax-Slayer that featured stories published by scam victims. These brave people were willing to share their personal stories in the hope that others would avoid being scammed in similar ways. However, I stop posting these stories to social media because so many commentators castigated the victims for being stupid enough to get caught and simply made fun of them. Even though the stories did not identify the victims, those who submitted the stories often followed the threads where the stories were posted. So, the derisive comments directed against them were very hurtful and certainly not in any way helpful.
After people realise that they have been scammed, victims can feel very isolated, depressed, and disillusioned. These people need our empathy and support, not our contempt and derision.
Of course, we probably all know a few people who, despite constant warnings from their friends and family, continue to fall for every scam and nonsense post that comes their way. These serial victims tend to be the ones we all know and talk about. But we should not judge all scam victims by these people. Many scam victims – and potential scam victims – just need a bit of guidance to set them right and give them the knowledge they need to avoid further scams.
And, even these serial victims do not deserve to be scammed. Perhaps they deserve to be at the pointy end of some rather blunt discussions. But, nobody deserves to be scammed, not even those that have been warned beforehand and failed to take heed.
So, rather than publicly labelling a scam victim ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’, perhaps you might want to consider the issues I raise above and take a more constructive approach to the problem.