The Psychology of Being Scammed

I love reading about social engineering type stuff, and this paper (PDF) by Paul Wilson and Frank Stajano is ideal Christmas after turkey reading. Schneier has the low down as usual.

This is a very interesting paper: “Understanding scam victims: seven principles for systems security,” by Frank Stajano and Paul Wilson. Paul Wilson produces and stars in the British television show The Real Hustle, which does hidden camera demonstrations of con games. Frank Stajano is at the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge.

The paper describes a dozen different con scenarios — entertaining in itself — and then lists and explains six general psychological principles that con artists use:

  1. The distraction principle. While you are distracted by what retains your interest, hustlers can do anything to you and you won't notice.
  2. The social compliance principle. Society trains people not to question authority. Hustlers exploit this “suspension of suspiciousness” to make you do what they want.
  3. The herd principle. Even suspicious marks will let their guard down when everyone next to them appears to share the same risks. Safety in numbers? Not if they're all conspiring against you.
  4. The dishonesty principle. Anything illegal you do will be used against you by the fraudster, making it harder for you to seek help once you realize you've been had.
  5. The deception principle. Things and people are not what they seem. Hustlers know how to manipulate you to make you believe that they are.
  6. The need and greed principle. Your needs and desires make you vulnerable. Once hustlers know what you really want, they can easily manipulate you.

It all makes for very good reading. Two previous posts on the psychology of conning and being conned.

Talking of Schneier, he was talking in London on the 11th December and although I was in town I couldn't make the event. Luckily someones recorded the lot and put it up online.

Bruce Schneier did a benefit gig for Open Rights Group last Friday and here's the video of his 'Future of Privacy' talk and the 45-minute Q&A.

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I may just have the next werewolf

I have playing with playing cards most of the night. Seems while I was sleeping that I came up with a card game which seems to be like werewolf/mafia but very different. I was reading up about game theory to see if it fit in one of the categories and it seems to fit into reciprocal altruism which is nicely exemplified with file sharing.

Another potential example would be the Internet file sharing communities. The ability to download (receive) a given file (an economic good) directly depends on other people who already possess the same file and share it through allowing uploading it to those who want it (a process which is also called seeding). Those who receive the file and later refuse to share it with others (through seeding) are known as leeches. However, there are methods to ban leechers, ie to deny them further participation in the file sharing network.

I don't want to come across like its totally tied down but the game seems pretty fun and could work with groups as big as 40 or as small as 12. Some other people have spoke to in the past have talked about the notion of a 3rd entity like the vampires. Well although we've not tried it out, I do worry it will just be chaos and there not enough to go on to make it worth doing. Plus vampires would be like a 2nd team of werewolves.

So forgetting vampires, my game is like werewolf as in there is a night and day phase but its more like a change of location with certain characters not being able to see or hear. The moderator/god/voice of the game is required to do a lot more in this game in regards to whos who. It may even require two or a piece of paper. The social notion of cheating and saying whatever you like is still there and is a major part of the game but now there's more emphases on altruism. You also don't need special cards for this game, a standard pack of 52 will scale up to 44 players I worked out. The suits, numbers and royality cards are very important for the game. And I did consider upping the numbers using the joker cards but it got very constrictive. Of course the game works well with drink too. The closes game I can find to the core idea of the game is this invented game called anandis.

I tried to do some probability calculations on who would win depending on how many of each character but it was beyond me. No what I really need is a Card game simulator. Maybe once I get a feel for the maths behind the game, I will write up a complete set of rules and release it to the world under a creative commons attribution licence or something.

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Chris moneymaker wins poker world series

Dave, alerted me to the fact that this years poker world series was won by a guy who regularly played poker on the internet. He had hardly played in real life and entered the world series only because he won a internet tournment which had cost him 40 dollars. So yeah from 40 to 2,500,000 dollars aint bad for the american bank accountant.

Some links dave sent me,, google search for chris moneymaker and this months wired's magazine A piece of the action

The greater question I guess is how much is poker reading and how much is reading players? Most poker players upto now subscribe to reading players and cards second. What does Moneymaker's success say about this? Maybe poker is all about rounders after all.

Some interesting links I picked up about stratergy using computer ai.
The New Card Shark and
The University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group and there Java Poker Client for Windows and for Linux/OSX

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24hrs in the matrix

Ok its been less than 24hrs and I have watched the matrix reloaded twice in the cinema and once on my computer. In total 7 hrs of my day has been spent watching this state of the art movie.
But its not good and i've pledged not to watch it for a few days now. Maybe Sunday with a friend or sometime over the weekend with my wife whos not all that bothered about watching it. Yes she needs help…

I'm still loving matrix reloaded but I cant wait a moment longer for revolutions. Its killing me… /images/emoticons/happy.gif

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