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  • What does a mousetrap have to do with scams?

  • Whenever we make a purchase, we often wonder,

  • "Am I getting the best deal on this? Could I find a better rate on a different site?"

  • The bigger the price tag, the more welcome a discount would be.

  • So, when we find the unbelievable deal, we want to believe it.

  • Our desire for reward is often stronger than our fear of repercussion, like the mouse that ignores the trap so he can get the cheese.

  • It's five o'clock on a Friday, and Susan is finishing her work week.

  • Now, for her second job, prepping for the birth of her son.

  • Tonight, she's on the hunt for a stroller, shocked at the wide variety of brands but uniformly high prices,

  • "This thing better push itself."

  • Susan pokes around popular websites, but is discouraged.

  • She keeps searching, and soon finds the exact item she's looking for being sold by an individual who can no longer use it.

  • But there's only the one stroller, and Susan knows this opportunity won't last forever.

  • When we find something we really want, our judgment is impairedthat's no accident.

  • It's built into the very psychological nature of a reward-based or merchandise scam.

  • According to recent research, merchandise scams were the most popular scam of 2020, both overall and online.

  • Clearly, the simplicity is successful, and in order for them to work, these scams use a tactic known as phantom fixation.

  • It's what happens when we're given an offer so incredible that it clouds our critical judgment.

  • Susan is fixated by the opportunity in front of her.

  • She ponders, imagining the joy such treasure will bring.

  • Such a prize would place her at the envy of her fellow parents as she strolls right by them.

  • Unable to ignore the pull any longer, Susan snaps into action and quickly secures the stroller of her dreams.

  • A wave of excitement and relief wash over her; she's finally nabbed her dream stroller.

  • The scam may be apparent to us observers, but for the person who finds the great deal, it's as dazzling as finding a diamond in the middle of Main Street.

  • But does this happen every time we find a great deal, or does the money itself factor into our fixation?

  • According to a 2016 study, decisions involving money activate different brain functions than non-financial decisions.

  • In fact, researchers found that individuals asked to pay a high price for an item experienced an actual emotional pain response in the brain.

  • Thus, someone finding a cheaper price could trigger a relief, and the perceived lack of pain would further influence their decision.

  • This effect can be greater than with non-money-based decisions.

  • So, how do we avoid the influence of money, phantom fixation, and merchandise scams in general?

  • Glad you asked.

  • Well, there are several red flags to watch out for.

  • Basically, what it comes down to is, remember that when you're buying something on the internet,

  • if you're buying it from a website or a person you've never met before, you don't know who you're dealing with.

  • They may be perfectly legitimate, they may also be a scammer.

  • So, once you see the red flags, what do you do?

  • I believe in trust⏤I would not say don't trust anybody.

  • Instead, I would say, being trusting is a great portion of who we are as humans.

  • We just, perhaps, need to slow down a little bit and think through things when somebody says something to us and we're not quite sure it's real.

  • A good deal is hard to pass up, but an unbelievable deal?

  • That should probably be questioned.

  • Avoid getting scammed.

  • Be careful about who you're giving your money to, and always confirm you have the recipient's correct information before sending payment.

  • Most important, Zelle would like to remind you to only send money to those you know and trust.

What does a mousetrap have to do with scams?

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