Fraudsters use reverse psychology to target individuals

New research shows fraudsters are using reverse psychology and apologetic language when targeting individuals to commit financial crimes.

Fraudsters use reverse psychology to target individuals

The research was undertaken by Take Five, an awareness campaign led by Financial Fraud Action (FFA) UK, with its partners Cifas and City of London Police, in a bid to tackle fraud.

From working with speech pattern analyst Paul Breen, Take Five found the techniques financial fraudsters commonly use to scam members of the public into handing over financial or personal information over the telephone.

Breen found six patterns of trust emerged from his analysis of real-life evidence drawn from recordings and transcripts of scam phone calls. Fraudsters will:

  • Use snippets of information about individuals, gathered together from different sources, to sound like they know what they’re talking about
  • Create a false balance of power by using apologetic language for taking up individuals’ time to make them feel sympathetic towards the fraudster
  • Remain patient as they continue to build up layers of seeming authenticity until an individual is convinced they’re legitimate
  • Assume the identity of someone in authority such as a fraud detection manager or a police officer investigating an ongoing crime
  • Welcome an individual’s scepticism and turn it into a weakness, using reverse psychology, by acknowledging their concerns about being security conscious
  • Switch tempo and increase or decrease the pressure by creating a false sense of urgency or using understanding language

Take Five has also unveiled new research which found Brits are vulnerable to the techniques identified above.

When asked to rank factors that make them more likely to trust a stranger over the phone, the most popular techniques were ‘sounding like a nice person’ (46 percent) and ‘sounding like they know what they’re talking about’ (42 percent).

Katy Worobec, director of FFA UK, said: “Tackling financial fraud is a priority for every bank and each one continuously invests in advanced security systems to protect their customers. However, as this research confirms, fraudsters use sophisticated methods in an attempt to circumvent these when targeting victims.

“While the payments industry stops six in every 10 pounds of attempted fraud, it cannot solve the problem alone. Criminals try to take advantage of our instinctive willingness to accept someone at their word.”