Taken: Getting Conned Is Simpler Than You Think…

    Have you ever been scammed? 

    Doesn’t feel good, does it? 

    I don’t know about you but I get spam email daily. 

    Normally it’s just an inbox nuisance but occasionally, if acted on the consequences can be disastrous. 

    Like when a scammer triggers a set of actions (with our unwitting assistance) that drains our bank account, results in someone else taking out a huge loan out in your name, or worse… 

    ... you get kidnapped. 

    All from a simple email, a skillful use of words and some tricks of the brain. 

    Don’t believe me? It happens. 

    You see, the brain wants to believe. 

    Or said another way, the brain can be made to believe, with surprising ease.

    (Once you understand some key ideas about the way the brain constructs our sense of ‘reality’ and forms beliefs.) 

    Propagandists, con-men and manipulators for generations have learned tricks to manipulate your mind and change your beliefs with ease. 

    And when you change a person’s beliefs you change their future actions. 

    Scammers just need know a few things to fool the believing brain.

     

    Here’s a real life example:

     

    A few years back a South Korean man received an email promising him tens of millions of dollars in a lottery scam. 

    Fast-forward a few emails and he is invited to fly to South Africa to collect his payout. 

    All is looking good so he flies with his 30 year old daughter to Johannesburg and is met by a taxi driver who brings them to a house in Soweto. 

    On arrival, the 3 are kidnapped by a Nigerian gang, who had been behind the ruse all along. 

    Can you imagine how the father felt? 

    .. realising he had put his daughter, himself and the unwitting taxi driver in serious danger… 

    all because he BELIEVED.

     

    Stupid. Ashamed. Angry. Terrified?

     

    His sense of reality was in a spin.

     

    The gang rang his wife who was back in South Korea.

     

                “Pay us $10m if you want to see your daughter and husband again.”

     

    Disorientated it took her some moments to figure out what was going on.

     

    She didn’t have anything close to that kind of money.

     

    Again, both language and belief literally paid an important part in what happened next.

     

    The kidnappers were focused on could she be lead to pay their amount (or as much as she had access to) AND pay it quickly while keeping the kidnapping quiet from the authorities?

     

    Her challenge:

     

    Could the kidnappers be made to believe she didn’t have anything close to US$10M and so reduce the sum to something she could pay.

     

    Back and forth the exchange went.

     

    Both sides looking to persuade the other.

     

    Eventually the amount was negotiated down to $120,000 USD (£92,000).

     

    Thankfully through a stroke of luck, the taxi driver escaped and alerted police who freed the pair before any money was paid.

     

    They were elated to be freed.

     

    As you read this you might wonder:

     

                “How could he have fallen for this scam?”

     

    The truth is the very same mechanism that fooled him in to believing is present in you and I too.

     

    In short, he believed because the ideas the kidnappers presented were done in such way that it felt true.

     

    It matched his internal experience so he never questioned it, until it was too late.

     

    For years what you have been told about beliefs is only part of the story. Much of what we’ve been taught is abstract fantasy. “Doodads for the mind", as my friend and colleague Michael Breen would say.

     

    Changing people’s beliefs, quickly and with ease goes beyond Sleight of Mouth.

     

    There are somethings more useful than knowing 14 language patterns  - that make belief change work easy.

     

    I’ll share more about this next week.

     

    But tonight as we begin the weekend, notice as you talk with family and friends, how the thoughts they hold as ‘true’ dictate their actions.

     

    How did they come to believe that?

     

    How do you come to believe what you do?

     

    This is the beginning of becoming a wizard of belief change.

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