A recent article in Sunday's Seattle Times (1/21/07) reminded me once again that there's no shortage of potential victims even in this age of instant information. The author, Prof. Jack Guttentag of the Wharton School, begins thus: "I seldom publish long letters in their entirety, but I'm making an exception. The letter below is so wonderfully descriptive of the gullible mindset of a victim waiting to be plucked and the modus operandi of a predator poised to do the plucking that it is worth the space." He goes on to list the three major characteristics of predatory lenders: a) they appeal to their targets' hopes that there's an easy fix, b) they appeal to their targets' hopes that they are that easy fix, and c) they work fast. See the entire article: Crooked Lenders Need Gullible Borrowers
This article resonates with personal safety, not only financial security. The tactics may be different, but the strategies are the same. Most perpetrators a) test potential targets for compliancy, and b) threaten them with consequences of non-compliance. Many c) work fast so before you realize it you've become another statistic. However, many also d) work over time to groom you for assault. This is most pronounced in cases of domestic violence, and assault on children where the perpetrator cultivated relationships with the parents to gain access to the children.
For parents, one big red flag you can look for is this: is this recent friend habitually offering to babysit so you two can get some "quality time" together? Or, if you're a single parent, so you can have some personal time? Let me rephase this. Is this friend constantly offering you something that overworked (who isn't these days?), borderline overwhelmed parents would so dearly love?