The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Do All Internet Scammers Think People Online Have Low Self Esteem …

I have a lot of respect for the criminal fraternity.

Well, not all of them, but definitely the conmen.

Maybe it’s because I admire their ingenuity.

Maybe it’s because I admire their balls.

Maybe it’s because they remind me of 90% of adland.

Whatever, the intelligent conman is someone to respect and learn from because they know far more about influencing human behaviour than pretty much every planner and researcher out there.

But somethings happened to their profession as of late – at least in regards to the low level internet scammer – because it seems they have decided to go the same way as much of the marketing fraternity and that is to try and appeal to people’s lowest common denominator: flattery.

Couple of points …

1. To be fair, I hear that the amount of revenue they manage to get out of people is still – on a global basis – in the hundreds of millions so their ‘technique’ can’t be all bad.

2. I appreciate most of mankind is flattery operated, so there’s method to the madness.

However what bothers me is that we now are seeing a decided lack of flair, imagination and sheer chutzpah.

Gone are the days where you were randomly contacted by some African General’s cousin who promised you untold millions for simply “helping them get their money out of their countries soon-to-be-frozen bank accounts” and instead, we are faced with the sort of sycophantic ramblings last seen by Oprah.

For example:

“Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog, your topics about female viagra samples are amazing and look forward to new posts. ”


“I accidentally came across your blog and I think it’s really good. If you’re not already a famous writer, you should be. I have a friend in the publishing industry so if you write to me, I will connect you up. Look forward to reading more from you.”

Seriously, even the most low self esteemed of low self esteemed would be able to tell this is a scam which has got me thinking, maybe I should set this as the A[P]SOTW instead?

Get planners to write a strategy on how to get people to part with their cash for something they don’t want.

Mind you, many people would argue that’s what they do anyway. Oh well.

Talking of A[P]SOTW, it’s almost done … finally have the brief sorted out … I just need to talk to 2 more people and then we can get it up and running.

Sorry for the delay, been a bit mad recently and no, it’s not because of free holidays thank you very much Andy, Doddsy and every other bugger out there who takes great delight in slagging me off.

Anyway, while I was joking that adland and the criminal fraternity are related, I was being genuine when I said that the art of the con can teach you a lot about human behaviour so next time you’re thinking of buying a book on strategy or insight or some other term the planning community like to bang on about, buy one of these books instead [1, 2, 3] … just focus on how they did it – and why people went along with it – not what they did, because I don’t want to be blamed when you’re in court charged with theft.

30 Comments so far
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Bet Dan Wieden thinks you could write a book on the art of the con. Or at least the art of the blackmail.

Comment by DH

I can’t wait for Lee Hill’s comment on this.

Comment by Billy Whizz

and the fucking rest.

Comment by andy@cynic

Amusing. Your point about con artists knowing more about human behaviour than planners and researchers is interesting. Do they really or is it more because they can create lies and half truths that allow the environment that encourages others to act in their interests?

I’m contradicting myself here because I do accept they must know what triggers action to pull to create the lies in the first place. Regardless, I know there’s something in what you’re saying (at least with top end con men) after all the Paul Britton work you did and even if there wasn’t, it was still more interesting to hear and read than every marketing and planning book in the market.

Comment by Pete

If you forget how much of our money Rob spent on Britton, it was good.

Comment by DH

It was good but how come he never talked about the machine that can solve every murder inside 60 minutes likes the guys on CSI use? Never understood that.

Comment by Billy Whizz

if you all want to know why your bonuses were shit call paul britton. or call campbell, hes more than fucking good for it. but youre after me in the fucking queue.

Comment by andy@cynic

Fair point Pete – but at the top level, their ability to understand what people fear, need, love, seek, want allows them to achieve the goal they are seeking. Sure, they might ‘lie’ to get to achieve that goal, but the bit before is more about ‘grooming for insight’ than anything else and in that respect, they are more effective than a lot of planners and researchers who talk a lot about understanding people but rarely say anything new … other than inventing a new ‘term’ to define them so they look like they’re bloody geniuses.

And yes, I am a massive fan of Paul B – and while I may have gone overboard with cost to work with him – at least I still hold the lessons he taught us, dear … unlike Andy who blew equal amounts of cash on the most disastrous idea since getting a subprime mortgage.

Comment by Rob

So, you respect people who exploit the stupidity of others for personal gain and you chose to work in advertising – the world is gloriously unpredictable.

Comment by John

It explains his love of Jerry Springer and Queen.

Comment by DH

But not nottingham forest and birkenstocks.

Comment by DH

In those situations, isn’t Rob the victim?

Comment by Pete

Except Rob fucked them back by proudly supporting them so no one will ever want to like them because if his association. Negative uncelebrity endorsement. Like that tool on Jersey Shore and abercrombie.

Comment by Billy Whizz

campbell is pure fucking evil. hold a cross up to his face and i swear to fucking god he would start hissing like the fucking snake he is.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’ve just explained the theory behind the book “the game” John.

Comment by Pete

You mean my bible?

Comment by Billy Whizz

You lost that game didn’t you Billy?

Comment by Pete

IIf you’re suggesting my comments here are actually “negs ” I may have to sue.

Comment by John

I just decided not to play anymore.

Comment by Billy Whizz

its easy to tell who the scammers are campbell. if they come on here and say they like what you write, theyre wannabe thieving twats.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well spotted Inspector Andy.

Comment by Rob

I like that comment Andy.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

Good points. Just watch ‘TV psychics’ too, to see how people can be read and react.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

Are you saying TV physics are genuine or false Rob? I’m not clear if you’re being sarcastic or genuine.

Comment by Pete

Haha I thought the use of the word ‘read’ implied I was including them in the load of old bollocks category! They are however brilliant examples of con artists.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

This post is timely because I have lunch with Andy & Dave today. Nicely done Robert, good post.

Comment by Bazza

Let me guess who’s paying?

Comment by John

My thoughts are with you Baz.

Comment by Rob

His thoughts are trying to find advil.

Comment by Pete

Can we push the analogy by saying that phishing is like classic advertising, all about GRPs, while those playing the Long Con are more like big brands who dig deeper to create a proper and long-term relationships with their audience?

Comment by Luca Vergano (@lucavergano)

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