From The Content Strategist: Last August, Interpol arrested a 40-year-old Nigerian con artist, known only as “Mike,” who was the alleged mastermind of an email scam cartel that swindled over $60 million from victims around the world. Mike operated various email schemes including the infamous “Nigerian Prince” ruse, which elaborately establishes a heartbreaking and potentially profitable tale before asking for money.
The prince scams are a case study in the power of storytelling. Before asking for money, the con artists weave intricate tales that appeal to people’s emotions. While these scammers tend to prey on the gullible, like this 63-year-old Nebraskan woman who lost over $40,000, the more elaborate variations call on astronauts or London gallerists to target people who may be more sophisticated. In fact, as Maria Konnikova told Contently in an interview about the dark side of storytelling, intelligent people are the most vulnerable to investment fraud. According to another new book, Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, they’re also more likely to join cults.