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April 13, 2022
May 3, 2022

Why we’re addicted to scam stories

We’ve had gastro porn, property porn and, well, porn porn, I suppose, back in the day.

But there’s a new porn in town.

One that I’m sure anyone with a Netflix subscription is already familiar with.

Scam porn.

You can’t move for dramas about con artists, hustlers and fraudsters at the moment.

From The Tinder Swindler (watched by 48.5 million in its first week), to Inventing Anna, to Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, there’s no shortage of stories about ordinary people getting duped, losing money, and generally being made a fool of.

What is it about these series that has us hooked?

They tap into a fear we all have about being taken for a ride. Of course, we’d like to think we’re above such outlandish methods of deception, but who’s to say it wouldn’t also happen to us? So we tune in to find out.

💔 The Tinder Swindler details the actions of a conman who used the dating app to extort money from his unsuspecting victims via private jets and 5-star hotels.

👓 Anna Delvey, an infamous fake socialite, manipulates wealthy New York movers and shakers for large sums of cash.

🌴 Fyre ripped off customers who thought they were buying a luxury music experience on a posh private island.

You can see why these dramas are so entertaining – they take place in luxury settings in exotic countries – but the fascinating thing is that the criminals at the heart of them aren’t involved in dramatic shoot outs or acts of violence.

They’re deploying simple, old fashioned wit and charm to get what they want. Something any of us could fall for, at any time, which is why people get so worried about trusting ordinary people, like doctors, accountants and financial advisers.

One thing I picked up this week however, is that people trust computers. An adviser I spoke to this week mentioned this in the context of cashflow modelling – he says if the screen says it, people believe it. They can't argue with what's in front of them, even less if it's personalised to their particular circumstances.

But no matter how effective the Monte Carlo simulation, you still need a human to explain and contextualise it, and to reassure.

Which is why hybrid advice - the much talked about blend of the best of technology working alongside the best bits of you as a human - is such a win:win for sceptical clients with a scam porn habit.

PS Is anyone watching Ozark? For the first time since Max Branning entered EastEnders, we have a financial adviser playing a key role in a drama...

Shameless plug

Last month I chatted to the folks at financial services PR firm MRM about what’s influenced my career, the campaigns I’m most proud of, and what financial advice I’d give to a young me.

Simple hack

Commercial flying can be so stressful, as Anna Delvey might say. But now you can book a private jet in seconds using XO, which offers a no-commitment solution to private jet ownership.

Bedtime bop

Annie Mac has revealed details of a new accessible club night, “designed for people who need sleep.” 'Before Midnight' will start at 7pm on May 20th and finish five hours later.

Word of the week

Kuchisabishii: when you’re not hungry, but you eat because your mouth is lonely.

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