Smith Brain Trust / March 10, 2022

How to Avoid Falling for a Con

How to Avoid Falling for a Con
Images courtesy of Netflix

Are you at risk of falling for a scammer? Maryland Smith’s Jui Ramaprasad has advice for how to avoid becoming a victim of, say, a swindler on a dating platform or a fake German heiress.

A recent Washington Post article explores the warning signs of a scam by speaking with a therapist, a matchmaker, a finance professor and Ramaprasad, an information systems expert, about how con artists operate and how to spot their red flags.

Ramaprasad’s research examines interactions on online dating platforms. She studies the impact of platform features and social influence on user participation, interaction, consumption and payment in online dating platforms, as well as music platforms.

The Washington Post article focuses on two new Netflix features: “The Tinder Swindler,” a documentary released in February, explores how Shimon Hayut pretended to be the son of a diamond billionaire on the dating platform Tinder and allegedly scammed suitors out of millions of dollars. And the limited series “Inventing Anna” dramatizes the rise of Anna Sorokin’s alter ego, Anna Delvey, a fake German heiress persona she created to hobnob with New York socialites and raise money from friends, banks and investors for a business venture.

Victims of a con often fall for it because of confirmation bias, says Ramaprasad.

“If you want to see something as true, you’ll see it as true,” she says in the Post.

Scammers often can home in on someone’s vulnerabilities and exploit them, she says. On Tinder, it was women seeking love. And in Sorokin’s circle, it was people wanting to be part of the glamorous circle she ran in. Both groups wanted to believe it was real.

Problems can also arise when you put too much faith in a tech platform you use a lot, Ramaprasad says. A woman profiled in “The Tinder Swindler” claims Hayut defrauded her out of $200,000, but admits to going back on Tinder. Ramaprasad says though it sounds unbelievable and ill-advised, she’s not surprised. As an expert who studies online dating sites and apps, she knows that over time, people build trust in a platform, “whether or not the platform has trust mechanisms.”

Ramaprasad says it all makes it “really hard to separate logic from emotion,” and that much easier to get duped.

Read more: The Washington Post interviewed Jui Ramaprasad about the warning signs of a scam and how to not become a victim in “How To Avoid Falling for a Tinder Swindler or a Fake German Heiress.”

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