Sheriff: Scams succeed because of emotion, not logic
Although I have made the issue of frauds and scams the topic of many articles, there seems to be an increase in the number of calls we continue to receive, and unfortunately there continue to be honest people falling victim to these types of crimes.
While I could fill pages of this paper describing the various types of scams and stories of those who have been victimized, I would rather focus on the basic human trait that each and every one of these scams feeds upon for their successes.
Whether the scam involves the potential to win a great deal of money in a lottery that you had never entered or receiving a large sum of money from a relative you have never met, these possibilities raise your emotional state of mind.
Although the emotions generated from these types of possibilities may be emotions of jubilation and happiness, they are still just that, emotions.
On the flip side, when you receive a call from what you are told and believe is the IRS or law enforcement, you experience emotions such as anxiety, fear or guilt.
We can add to this list the calls that you believe are from family or friends requesting money because they have found themselves in a tragic set of circumstances and desperately need your help immediately, creating emotions of sympathy, compassion and obligation.
Each and every one of these circumstances is very different, but there is one distinct, shared feature, and that is the ability of the caller to elevate your emotional state of mind.
This is no accident. In fact, it is essential to the success of the callers' twisted endeavor because, by elevating your level of emotion, they are diminishing your level of logic.
This mathematical equation of Emotions High = Logic Low is not just related to the perpetration of scams, it follows us every day of our lives, and each of us can find numerous times when we made decisions and fought our own battles between emotion and logic.
It could be as simple as a purchase of shoes that we really didn’t need and maybe have yet to be worn as they sit piled in our closet. It could be the purchase of a home that was well above our means and caused financial stress in our lives. To a greater extent, it could be that relationship we stayed in even though we knew it was not healthy and was keeping us from true happiness.
Ultimately many of the choices we make from childhood into adult life are made in the balance between emotion and logic.
As parents, we watch as our children navigate through their own young lives and learn the importance of good decisions. We cheer them as they experience the joy and satisfaction of good decisions and feel their pain and frustration of consequences from not-so-good decisions. Each and every one of these is a lesson which we hope will continue to build their understanding of when to follow emotion and when to follow logic.
In regards to scams and frauds, our ability to follow up and bring justice to victims once money is sent or vital personal information is shared remains very limited. These crimes are perpetrated many times from overseas and the technology they utilize eliminates our ability to investigate effectively.
Our best defense remains our own logic and, when possible, the logic of those around us. If you are contacted with an opportunity that seems too good to be true, or a call which causes you a high level of anxiety, take a moment to contact a family member or friend. Create an environment where someone other than yourself who is not emotionally attached to the event can review the situation and hopefully bring a more logical perspective.
Also, please share your experiences with others. Your close encounter with a scam may make the difference for the next person on the receiving end of a call or email.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Sheriff: Scams succeed because of emotion, not logic