Similar to the first experiment, individuals who rated the solicitation as having high benefits were more likely to signal intention to contact. We thought this experiment would help us identify some special vulnerable subtype, like the elderly, but instead, the interested consumers in both experiments were exactly the same – those who saw the potential for high benefits as outweighing the risks. There were no significant differences based on age, gender or other demographics we looked at.
Even though about 60 percent identified the solicitations as likely a scam, they also still viewed the opportunity as potentially beneficial. In some ways these advance fee scams may act as unofficial lotteries – a low cost of entry and a high chance of failure. While consumers are wary, they don’t completely write off the possibility of a big payoff, and some clearly are willing to undertake the risk.
Given that the perception of benefits and risks were the most important factors in intention to comply, consumers should only focus on the risk and avoid getting sucked in by the potential benefits.