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The Psychology of a Scam Part 1

Updated: Jan 21, 2018

October 14, 2017 | Dr James Carlopio





Scams are as old as the human race: From the Trojan Horse of Greek mythology, to its modern name-sake (modern malware that disguises its true intent), people have always tried to deceive, to survive and to gain access to things of value.


Individuals use deception to win political office, gain military success, find a job, win a love interest from a rival, escape a threat, or for countless other reasons (“all is fair in love and war”).  The common purpose across all scams (cyber or otherwise) is to deceive by appealing to basic motivators such as the promise of money, success and health to get someone to take an action that benefits the scammer. 


Procreation, provision and protection are the three fundamental instinctual drivers of human perception, attitudes and behaviour.  Social engineering scams always have something to do with the 3Ps – procreation, provision and protection because that is where we are emotional and vulnerable.  


When criminals think of new social engineering opportunities, they focus on the areas in which people are emotional such as family, money and sex.  For example, before someone first conceived of an on-line-dating scam, they thought about where people are vulnerable and emotional.  People are emotional and vulnerable related to relationships and the people that they love – the 3Ps.


It is perfectly “normal” to be tricked in relation to the 3Ps.  Our brains are hard-wired to react instinctually, without conscious rational thought under certain circumstances and criminals try and exploit these natural vulnerabilities.  What we can do is to improve our emotional intelligence (measured by our EQ = emotional quotient) and our CQ (our cyber quotient = a measure of our cyber intelligence and our SQ (our security quotient = a measure of our security intelligence).  


If you want to learn how, contact Dr. James Carlopio from Cultural Cyber Security on 0488 028 054.
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