It doesn't matter how intelligent you think you are. Fact is, under the right circumstances, pretty much anyone can become easy prey for a scam. Worse yet, if that happens, you could lose plenty of money before you know what happened.
What does it mean to be easy prey? Let’s start with definitions.
- Prey: a person or animal that falls victim to another.
- Easy prey: someone who is easy (or easier) to deceive or be taken advantage of.
In April of 2020, I launched the Easy Prey podcast, which covers a wide range of topics all related to scams and fraud. In my first podcast, I talked about why I decided to launch the podcast.
Still, I didn't quite explain what it meant to be easy prey for a scam. After all, the term “easy prey” is right in the title of my podcast. So, let me explain.
First off, there’s one thing everyone should know when it comes to scams. Quite simply, we’re all targets.What Does it Mean to be Easy Prey for a Scam? Click To Tweet
You’re a scam target every day.
As you saw above, the word prey means “victim.” However, being a target for a scam doesn’t mean you are or will become a victim. To start with, you need to understand the following:
- Everybody is a potential target for a scam. You, right now, will likely be contacted by a scammer in some way, several times in the next month. You’re a target now.
- You make yourself a bigger target if you engage in certain activities. If you use online dating sites, you are a target for romance scams. If you’re looking to make money fast, you’re a target for get-rich-quick schemes (these are the top online scams).
- A scam involves you directly. A scam isn’t like a car break-in. It involves an actual interaction between the scammer and a target—their potential victims.
We wrote an article on EasyPrey.com that talks about the steps involved in a successful scam. Targets who become victims chose to take certain actions. Just realize that being a target (prey) doesn’t mean you’ll become a victim.
Who becomes “Easy Prey for a scam?”
The term we all have heard, easy prey, can be explained rather simply. Someone who was easy prey was a person who, for whatever reason, was more likely to be a victim.
Saying that a victim was easy prey isn’t putting a negative label or tag on them. And it certainly doesn’t imply that someone was dumb, clueless, lacked common sense or simply should have known better.
That’s because being easy prey isn’t always the victim’s fault. The journey from a target to a victim can be a matter of circumstance, an unlucky day, or simply a lack of awareness.
Here are real-life examples of easy prey.
Here are a couple of scenarios that might help me explain that aspect of it.
The hungry lamb. If a hungry lamb strays away from the herd, it is at most risk to be attacked by a pack of wolves nearby—it stands out as the most vulnerable.
The high school freshman. Students just starting out in high school are easy targets for bigger (mean) kids. Although it's getting better, the skinny or shy kids still get bullied by the bigger, older students.
Famous “wannabes.” Every year, hundreds of boys and girls, and men and women come to Hollywood hoping to be a movie star and get famous. They’re preyed upon by very bad people who are looking to lure them into a bleak life.
Homeless teens. Homeless kids and runaways are prime victims of drug-dealers and pimps.
A lonely online dater. People who are starving for attention or affection get scammed by fraudulent girlfriends or boyfriends, who take advantage of their emotions.
Could you be easy prey for a scam and not know it?
How does someone become easy prey for con artists and scammers, online and in the real world? Here are a few examples of targets who could be easy prey. As you read this, realize that you or someone you know could easily become easy prey, if the right circumstances fall into place:
- A first-time Craigslist seller: Someone totally new to Craigslist or eBay posts something for sale, isn’t aware of some of the common scams for online selling and buying, and could get swindled in the deal.
- A senior on Social Security. An isolated senior gets an email or call saying they’ve won $1 million in a special sweepstakes. There's a catch, of course. First, they're told, they must pay the “required” taxes and fees upfront. Sadly, the winnings never come.
- Someone who’s unemployed and needs income. An online job that offers good pay for easy work would excite anyone. Scammers know this and rip-off people who are desperate for income.
- A care-free, happy traveler going overseas. Friendly con artists are eager to pounce on (and steal from) people who are new to a city, popular tourist spots and its currency.
How to avoid being easy prey for a scam.
Knowledge and awareness are your best weapons for fighting off scam attempts. Here are a few suggestions for you right now that can help you strengthen your defenses.
- Learn anti-scam skills now. We posted an article on EasyPrey.com (Eight Ways to Avoid Scams) that teaches you eight simple things you can do to fend off scam attempts. There’s even a creative infographic that goes with it. Be sure to share it with others.
- Take our free Easy Prey Self-Assessment. We created our own free and easy-to-use self-assessment to help you protect yourself. It helps you discover whether you’re doing a good job protecting your personal information, privacy and identity—or whether you’re at risk of becoming easy prey for a scam. You can find the Easy Prey Self-Assessment here.
- Listen to the Easy Prey podcast. The absolute best way to avoid becoming a victim of a scam is to be aware of the risks online and in real life. One way to keep your guard up is to hear experts interviewed on the Easy Prey podcast. They will give you insights on the various scams and schemes out there. Best of all, they help you avoid being easy prey for a scam.
The more you know, the safer you are.
We are all targets, but we can avoid being a victim if we know what to look for and what to do. The good news is, you can do that by keeping your eyes open, your scam radar on, and developing good, scam-savvy habits.
Stay safe. Be wise. And remember, if it all sounds too good to be true, it very likely isn’t real.
You can find the Easy Prey podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and other media player platforms.
Listen to the Easy Prey podcasts.
The more you know, the safer you are.
Thank you for your advice and knowledge you have on this topic.. I have a problem with making impulsive decisions only to think back on it and later and shake my head in disbelief but by that time it’s already too late… I wouldn’t call myself a pushover. I would say that I’m just trying to be a better person but kindness is taking for weakness. There’s been many times I just wish I was smarter or saw the signs and listened to my gut and not the scammers power of deception… Anyways , look forward to learning more on how to keep myself and the people I love the most safe.