Criminals use language in subtle and powerful ways to scam people out of money. The popular idea is of gullible or vulnerable person 'falling for' a scam, whilst the reality is that scammers are highly skilled manipulators of language that use techniques designed to make people feel at ease and disguise any cause for concern.

This document shows some of the ways in which scammers use the reassurance of familiarity, our normal instincts to protect, and isolation from support to draw people in and justify their behaviour.

Scams are a type of fraud which is a criminal offence. A criminal will extort money from individuals by manipulating language to distort reality and isolate their victims from sources of support.

Protect yourself and others

Only purchase goods and services from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.

Do not assume everyone is genuine. It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with your family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.

Do not be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

If you suspect, you, a friend or someone who is vulnerable of being the subject of a scam, you can talk to:

  • Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
  • To report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
  • Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.

More advice can be found at:

The Estates Department- © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NN, T: +44 (0)1227 764000

Last Updated: 19/06/2020