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Sunday, March 18, 2018
Article written by Yigit Djevdet

Avoiding Fraudulent Business Operations

Example From The Physical World (as opposed to internet)
A man appears at the door of an elderly widow's house. The place is a small quiet village, not too many nosy neighbours and not very much happening. The man pronounces that the house is in need of roof repairs because his good deed for the day happens to be conducting free roof inspections. He wins her confidence and before long he is in the kitchen sipping the elderly woman's tea and eating a piece of her home made cake. He manages to prise out of her a lot of information about her past, her late husband, her house and so on. An hour passes and before she knows it, she has given away information that is valuable to this man but she does not suspect anything. She believes everything the man has so far said and she has no reason to doubt this quiet-spoken young man who says he has just moved into the village.

One vital piece of information he has managed to skim from her outpouring happens to be the amount of money she has saved up. So finally he offers to have an even closer look at her roof to see precisely what it needs. Before she gets the chance to agree or disagree, he is already up there breaking some slates. He climbs down from his ladder with a glum expression on his face and shows her the broken pieces, while explaining that there are many more like that on her roof. It looks like she will need a completely new roof to safeguard the house from rain and everything else a roof is supposed to keep out. She asks the vital question, "How much?" He plays it very cool and reaches for his case. He takes out a lot of papers and a calculator, and proceeds to work something out. An estimate is prepared and handed over. The amount is $14,245. She sighs and explains that she does not have that much. "Well", he conjectures, "being retired entitles you to a discount and the new price is $12,499".

It is now 4 hours since he arrived at her house and whilst she is clearly wavering, he mounts more and more pressure to force the woman to yield. She finally breaks and signs the contract that he has already prepared. She hands over a cheque and the work does not begin until weeks after the money is taken and probably spent. What is worse, the house is completely wrecked, as the inept builder and a few of his associates work to repair the roof. After 5 weeks they disappear without a trace, having left her penniless and literally without a roof over her head.

Example From The Physical World (as opposed to internet)
This is a particularly nasty example of heartless and mindless people who do not want to earn a living in a way that does not involve lying and deceiving. They do not care what happens after the mess they leave behind. They do not mind if the people who have to pick up the pieces survive or are overwhelmed by the situation. If you agree with me that the above is an extremely despicable way to earn a living then let us take a closer look at the general signs which should have rang danger bells with the elderly woman.

1. The visit to the woman's house is unsolicited. No appointment was made. Genuine and honest businessmen (especially in the building trade) would very rarely have time to drive around giving free inspections of any sort.

2. Even if an appointment was made (solicited visit), the salesman should never try to pressure the customer into anything.

3. The whole affair should not last more than an hour (depending on the nature of the call but I think an hour is average for a first visit).

4. The salesman should not impose on the host by asking for an immediate decision or payment upfront.

5. If an estimate is given and a discount follows almost immediately as the customer starts to object, then the dishonesty element should become apparent.

6. The classical psychology used here is obvious and blatant. The customer is made to feel as though unless action is taken immediately something disastrous is going to happen.

7. The customer is made to feel that a very great favour is being bestowed upon them and by wavering they are insulting the salesman and refusing to accept this extraordinary piece of luck that has just appeared out of thin air.

8. The customer is being made to feel guilty and heartless because they have wasted hours of the salesman's time without a sale.

9. The customer is being made to feel miserly and stupid to even think about refusing such a wonderful and exclusive offer.

Given all these enormous pressures, anyone who fails to recognise the signs will give in and console themselves afterwards by rationalising the sale, although it was against their instincts. This is done by recalling the salesman's phrases about what might happen and how much more it might cost in the future if the problem is not attended to now. And of course the discount and the headed stationery, the invoice and the business card and the van outside, the case he was carrying, the quietly-spoken nature all count towards the consolation process after the salesman leaves with the money.

It isn't until everything begins to go wrong and the salesman is seen for what he is that the pain really starts. A valuable lesson for us all.
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