I typically have very little sympathy for victims of scams like the Nigerian scam. After all, such things require the victim to be rather greedy and usually somewhat vain.
But this story has me rethinking those assumptions.
Basically, an 89-year-old apparently well-respected university professor was separated from millions of dollars of his money by the Nigerian scam. I read up on scams a couple of months ago as research for my novel. (If you ever need to do this, Fay Faron's book Rip-Off: A Writer's Guide to Crimes of Deception was a really excellent resource.)
Going on what I learned from Faron's book, how the UCI crime happened illustrates perfectly why the scams target old people and how well that works. In this case, the crime victim ever lied and claimed he'd lost the money in "bad investments" rather than admit what happened.
I can completely understand that, especially in a man who got his fame by pointing out Ronald Reagan's mental difficulties awhile before other people could see them.
Aren't the vast majority of email and phone scam victims elderly people?
I know they are certainly targeted by telemarketers, and insurance salespeople. My grandmother has practically everything she owns covered by some type of repair insurance. She swears she needs these insurances because "if something breaks I won't have the money to fix it." Although I have tried to convince her that if she just put the money in savings she could probably afford to fix most things as they slowly broke down.
All that being said, my coworker's 45 year old brother called her one day and told her about a new business venture he was going in - after a few sentences it became clear to her that this was the Nigerian money scam. Her brother was all fitting to go meet some total strangers in a parking lot somewhere after hours! It took some pleading on her part to get him to not go. She recruited my assistance in finding things online that she could quickly email to him that told what could happen. And this was last year! I could hardly believe people fell for this stuff.
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