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My experience with (online / email / phone) scammers is that they always curse at the end of the following situation:

  1. A scammer contacts you,
  2. you engage briefly in polite and sincere manner,
  3. you expose them in a simple way e.g. - 'oh man, stop wasting your time'.

At this point they start cursing. Does psychology offer any explanation for such behavior?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to psych.SE. This question is attracting opinion-based answers. While I'm certain that many potential explanations exist, studying scammers in some rigorous manner is an unlikely prospect, so I doubt that an authoritative answer exists. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jan 15, 2023 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ As much as I would like there to be an answer, I agree with @ArnonWeinberg that any answer available will be purely opinion based. Maybe it is just anger at "being found out" and the act of "lashing out" at the one who called them out $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2023 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your opinions. The accepted answer does provide some terminology and references which I find useful. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2023 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ Hi aleksander, thanks for accepting my answer. It was not exhaustive, but I'm glad it became a starting point for your research. :) $\endgroup$
    – mjoe7
    Jan 18, 2023 at 16:21

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Generally, when you expose scammers, they may get angry because they feel embarrassed or ashamed about their actions and do not want to be held accountable for them. Getting angry by cursing can be a form of self-defense in this case.

Some also tend to get to the point actually believing in their own lies, so they see you as the "bad person" who is unreasonably suspecting them. This might be a form of self-serving bias where people tend to view their own actions and decisions as being more "correct" than others. When exposed, even "politely" or "sincerely", they may feel that they are being treated unfairly or that their actions are being misinterpreted, which can lead to anger and resentment.

Lastly, there is the self-esteem theory, where people's self-esteem is tied to their sense of self-worth and they may react with anger if they feel that their self-worth is being threatened.

References

N., S. (n.d.) Threat to self-esteem model. Psychology Dictionary. https://psychologydictionary.org/threat-to-self-esteem-model/

Ruhl, C. (2021). Self-Serving Bias: Definition and Examples. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/self-serving-bias.html

Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). The psychology of self‐defense: Self‐affirmation theory. Advances in experimental social psychology, 38, 183-242. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(06)38004-5

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. I am sorry, but I can't help feeling there is a lot of opinion in your answer here. How do your references linked tie in with your answer? After-all, whether they believe in their own lies or not, a scammer is only out to obtain something from their target that they are not really entitled to (usually money). $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2023 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, @ChrisRogers thanks for the edit. Anyway, here are some response: (1) What I mean by "believing their own lies", is that scammers often go to such length in order to make themselves much MORE believable; as such might show in their nonverbal behavior (the way they speak, etc). (continued...) $\endgroup$
    – mjoe7
    Jan 17, 2023 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ (2) "A scammer is only out to obtain something from their target". Well, that's what makes it as a SCAM in the first place. (Objective) However, the author of the question is clearly asking for psychological explanations. And the subject of Psychology, aside from the WHAT or HOW, also deals with the WHYs of human behavior. And this can make it SUBJECTIVE. (continued...) $\endgroup$
    – mjoe7
    Jan 17, 2023 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I agree that this is opinion-based, as we cannot clearly see from the scammer's POV (unless one also had a first-hand experience in being a scammer themselves, I think)! Disclaimer: My explanation may not be as clear as I had hoped because English is not my first language. Nonetheless, I have a degree in Psychology and these are the best explanations that came to mind. :) $\endgroup$
    – mjoe7
    Jan 17, 2023 at 22:32
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Whether they are legitimate marketeers or total scammers, the situation is the same. They earn their money by making sales, and after spending far too many minutes talking to you, they just ended up with nothing to show for it.

The only difference between the two types of callers is that the scammers aren't worried that you might complain to their supervisors when they vent their frustration.

(Refraining is more a case of direct self-preservation than psychology. It's the need to vent that is psychological, but that's not what this question is asking about.

UPDATE: this answer was tagged: "Add citations from reputable sources by editing the post. Posts with unsourced content may be edited or deleted.".
There can't be any citations; it's simply pointing out that the original question has nothing to do with psychology, and everything with the common and natural desire to keep one's job.

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  • $\begingroup$ "the original question has nothing to do with psychology, and everything with the common and natural desire to keep one's job" There is employment in scamming? What legitimate employers out there look for people to sell non existing products? $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2023 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers, no one said the employers were legitimate. There are people that form companies, set up the office and the phone and dialing infrastructure, and hire employees whose job it is to do the actual phone scamming. To those employees, this is their job, and they earn money and retain that job by doing what is necessary to get money for the company. When you waste their time, they receive less commission that day, regardless of whether the company is legitimate. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2023 at 13:45

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