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Weapons of Fraud Exposes Swindlers' Secrets

Consumer fraud is big business. Americans lose more than $40 billion every year to scams and schemes. But have you ever wondered how con artists are able to steal from so many victims? How they could tempt you to hand over your hard-earned money, maybe even your life savings, to a fraud?

These sophisticated criminals knowingly use a bag of time-tested psychological tricks and tactics that work over and over again.

But now a free AARP publication will help you spot the cons before they spot you. "Weapons of Fraud" by AARP’s Doug Shadel and Dr. Anthony Pratkanis, Professor of Psychology at UC Santa Cruz, takes readers deep into the shadowy world of professional scammers. It helps readers identify the underlying building blocks of today's most popular scams and prepares consumers to recognize and protect themselves from the scams of tomorrow.

“Weapons of Fraud” is the result of a year-long effort by AARP and a number of law enforcement agencies as they analyzed hundreds of undercover tapes of cons in action. Using their own words, "Weapons of Fraud" turns swindlers into unlikely allies in the fight against consumer fraud.

Along with the inside story on consumer fraud, "Weapons of Fraud" also includes a CD with audio clips of actual con artists as they unwittingly attempt to rip-off undercover investigators posing as elderly victims. You’ll learn how to pinpoint the psychological tactics used in these real life examples of criminals at work.

Here’s a preview of just a few of the undercover audio clips of cons in action, including a foreign lottery scam, a fake sweepstakes pitch, and a shockingly abusive clip l that will show you just how far scammers will go to rip you off.

You can also view a short video presentation of the material in two parts on AARP Washington’s YouTube page.

"Weapons of Fraud" has attracted nationwide media attention, including stories in Money Magazine, ABC's World News Tonight, NBC News, the Wall Street Journal, and CBC Marketplace – to name just a few.

More than 15,000 copies of have already been ordered. You can order your own free copy of “Weapons of Fraud” by calling AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center toll-free at 1-800-646-2283 or by sending an email to Be sure to include your first and last name, telephone number, mailing address and email address. Please allow at least 14 working days for delivery.

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