Discursive Manipulation Strategies in Virtual Scams in Global Contexts

Discursive Manipulation Strategies in Virtual Scams in Global Contexts

Rotimi Taiwo (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-833-0.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter examines how online fraudsters explore the experiential, interpersonal, and textual language metafunctions in the crafting of their emails for global audiences. A critical study of international virtual scam emails over a period of time shows that these scammers tend to improve on how they construct their messages as they rely on experiential knowledge of what they believe will appeal to their audience. Recent scam emails use fewer pressure tactics, and writers present their identity as that of a non-confident, naïve, vulnerable, and ignorant persons, thereby increasing the discursive power of their addressees in the interaction. Scammers also use different forms of politeness strategies to bait their victims.
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Uninhibited Online Behavior

Online communication encourages the inflicting of malicious behavior through different channels of digital media including email, instant messaging, and text messaging. Some behaviors are typically associated with the online culture. Such behaviors are said to be encouraged by the context of online communication, which makes users feel insulated and anonymous. Such feelings of isolation and anonymity, in turn, can cultivate what social psychologists generally refer to as deindividuation. Deindividuation means the loss of the sense of individual identity. This loss, which is also associated with a loosening of normal inhibitions, often promotes behavior that violates social standards (Joinson, 1998). Several uninhibited online behaviors have been identified over time, but for the purpose of this chapter, we shall discuss four of them: cyberbullying, flaming, spamming, and scamming.

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