Gullible Ph.D. Psychologist Taken Down

This is a sad tale of gullibility and greed in America.  In this instance a psychotherapist fell for one of the ubiquitous Nigerian Letter (advance fee) frauds, was played like a 2 pound fish on a 20 pound line, and was eventually imprisoned.  This case was reported in The New Yorker in 1996 under the title "The Perfect Mark".  I just stumbled upon it today, and thought it instructive on some of the points I made in a previous post, Decade of the Energy Scams.  Some of the general comments I made in that post apply here, especially this one:
I  informed the guy who posted this video link on a popular trading blog that he was highly gullible.  He didn't take it well, considering he is a physician with a previous PhD in the sciences.  But he is a good example of something every scam artist knows well -- highly educated people are the easiest to scam.
. . . and this one:
When a person with experience meets a person with money, the person with experience leaves with more money, and the person with the money leaves with more experience.
The New Yorker article contains good discussion on advance-fee type scams.  Notice how John Worley was taken down by the Nigerians.  Despite being given a bad cheque early in the scam, he opens a bank account in Bermuda for the purpose of parking the funds supposedly arriving from Nigeria.  This cost him $4300.  This is the "foot in the door" technique used in sales; get the client to make a small commitment, then upsell him to the max.  After that it was easy to work the gullible mark, John Worley, for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This scenario reminds me of the plot in one of my favourite movies, A Simple Plan.
The plot investigates how far honest people might go to protect their secret of a discovery of $4.4 million dollars in a crashed airplane.  It also reminds me of the hapless Jerry Lundegaard in the movie Fargo.

In John Worley's case, and in the two movies, normal people make mistakes, and then compound them with increasingly larger ones.

I note that John Worley obtained his Ph.D. by correspondence from the Carolina University of Theology, which presumably would be the equivalent of Saskatchewan high school Grade 10.  And what type of clientele would pay for counselling from such a person?  Only in America!

Note how the Nigerian scammer(s) use the wire transfer technique to extract the loot.  The scammer typically sends excess funds for some purchase, using a bad cheque or money order, and then asks the mark to wire transfer the excess amount to some third party.  A wire transfer is final, non-recoverable.  The mark is then out the amount of the bad cheque plus the amount of the "excess" that he/she wired to the scammer.

A local radio personality, Shauna Foster, was taken down in a bad money order scam last year.  This one became a viral e-mail with all the usual "forward to everyone you know" BS, and I don't know which parts of the e-mail are true.  (Like most people I receive numerous urban legend/hoax type e-mails; I particularly like the challenge of seeing how many sentences, or words, I need to read to identify it as a hoax.  So keep them coming, gang!)  I had the same reaction as the person at the following blog had; there was much more to the story than the e-mail stated. 

If anyone has time on their hands, here's a devious Saskatchewan guy who has a few narratives on how he "plays" Nigerian scammers.  Note that he has the Shauna Foster e-mail at the top, then a short series with Andrew Bell.  But the first one in the series, where he is attempting to sell a van to Nigerian "Mrs. Helen", is at the bottom and should be read from the bottom up.  I particularly liked how he gets the Nigerian(s) to send correspondence to Dog River, SK, and how he uses the local RCMP detachment phone number as his contact number.

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