Just Because You're Renowned, It Doesn't Mean You're Not Gullible

from the keep-on-paying dept

We’re always amazed at just how gullible people appear to be when it comes to scams like the Nigerian advance-fee 419 scam. And, while it’s easy to assume that it’s tricking people who are just not that intelligent — we keep hearing stories of well-renowned people, who obviously are quite smart being taken. Two years ago, remember, there was the “renowned” Harvard professor and AIDS/cancer researcher who was tricked by 419 scammers, and who went on to scam a bunch of colleagues and friends out of $600,000. Now comes the news of a famous neuroscientist from UC Irvine. It turns out that he’s being accused by his son of handing over approximately $3 million to Nigerian scammers over the past decade. Like the Harvard professor and others, this guy is denying that he was conned — instead claiming just that he made some bad investments. Can we get someone to write a prescription for common sense?

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Comments on “Just Because You're Renowned, It Doesn't Mean You're Not Gullible”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Think of all the businesses that would come to a grinding halt if common sense could be acquired by taking a little pill once a day…

Yes, scammers would be out of business, but think of the LEGAL businesses that would close if common sense could be acquired by taking a little pill once a day:
-Plastic surgeons
-Dating services
-Advertising agencies
-Car parts shops that sell all that crap to Asian kids.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Smartiepants?

“Car parts shops that sell all that crap to Asian kids.”

hey, when was the last time you saw an American garage sell to an Asian kid? news: its mostly import aftermarket companies selling to import car owners… just like domestic garages still do customise domestic cars.

BTW, this is America and it doesn’t matter if you are Asian, black, Hispanic or whatever – as long as you legally have an American green card, you are an American… whether YOU like it or not.

And just because one person is brilliant at one subject, doesn’t mean that he cannot be ignorant at another. Take for example the article’s described scientist being brilliant (“renowned”) in the science field, but not so keen on the “business common sense” field.

dorpus says:


All medical researchers receive training in HIPPAA compliance and the IRB (Institutional Review Board), which oversees research ethics. When a researcher gets involved in something like this, they know they are doing something bad.

I could point out that there are plenty of con artists from shady “biotech” or “holistic medicine” companies that approach medical researchers all the time. When the medical researchers ask them about IRB or HIPPAA, the scammers become silent very quickly. This part doesn’t get covered by the media, though.

dorpus says:

Re: Common sense...

What is common to one person is not common to another. Black women will tell you it is common sense that a white woman should not comb or swipe their hair next to a black person, because it’s “insulting”. A deaf person will tell you it is common sense that a non-deaf person should look at them while talking through an interpreter, though very few non-deaf people realize this. On the other hand, many deaf people are under the impression that very few people in the world listen to music, because nobody talks about music in their world.

Jamie says:

Anyone can fall for a scam

Sometimes the smartest people fall for the dumbest scams. You can’t judge someones common sense (about scams, that is) by the level of education or intelligence they have in a particular field.
When I was in college I was always amazed at the people who could sit through a physics class and understand everything easily, but couldn’t spot a pyramid sceme from a legit business opportunity.

? says:

One of the most brillinat doctors I know

gets conned all the time. He knows medical stuff better than most of his colligues. He refuses to take a job at any of his professions top universities becuase they can’t teach medicine on his level.

But man, he is a sucker when it comes to anything that has nothing to do with medicine.

This week, he performed an expensive medical procedure on a patient, who couldn’t pay for the procedure. He accepted the car title as colateral. It wasn’t until he told me this story of how clever of an idea this was (it was the patient’s idea) that I told him that a car title, that hasn’t been singed, is worthless.

He is out a TON of money now.

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