Interesting piece by the ABC’s Felicity Sheppard Scams: Trickling into the mobile phones, email accounts and personal lives of Australians.
We have all experienced them. They really are a persistent bunch. It’s pretty easy to spot and ignore most. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for those caught, for example, by variants of the Nigerian letter scam. The offers made are generally obvious breaches of the law, although the charity scam is a new variant.
The really dangerous ones are those that take place within an apparently safe environment. The romance scams are an example. One can safely ignore those unsolicited remarkable offers that come from a variety of Russian ladies. Are there equivalent offers for women from good looking Russian men, or is this scam a particular male thing?
The big danger lies in the operation of con artists within the dating sites. Lonely women appear to be specially vulnerable, although there have been enough male cases to suggest that all lonely people are vulnerable.
Dating sites have really exploded in recent years. Is it just technology capturing an existing need, or have western societies actually become lonelier places? This is from the Beatles.
My personal view is that the world has become a lonelier and more fragmented place despite the linkages offered by the new technology. People need physical interaction.
Some years after the death of her husband, an Aunt said to me that the thing she most missed was the loss of cuddles. Her husband, she said, had been a very good cuddler!
I think that this need for cuddles, to hold, is central to the romance scams. Even where a person has considerable interaction with others, the need remains. People will go to considerable lengths to meet that need.
Security is a related need. This is often expressed in economic terms, but emotional linkages are more important. The local histories and memoirs that I am presently reading highlight this. In the big emotional events, the death of a child or partner, people are always there. They are there, too, for the small daily events, a cup of tea and a chat. The people who are alone, who die alone, are recognised or commented on by exception.
I think that this is less true today. People’s needs for emotional security and for cuddles makes them vulnerable to the emotional scammers able to play on that need. The result is heartbreak on one side, considerable profit on the other.