Over the past decade everyone has been talking about wolves. Wolves are either hated or loved. Wolf-Advocacy is a relatively new cause that came about as wolves went from recovery to being hunted as a trophy. Hundreds of thousands of people came forward to fight the War-On-Wolves. The wolf trophy hunts began a decade ago and thousands of wolf advocates stepped up to protect wolves. There’s a downside to any cause, and wolf advocacy is no exception. As wolf Advocates step up for the love of wolves so do the con men/women.
The con artist, to con something, such as a ruse, used deceptively to gain another’s confidence. These con artists go about swindling, manipulating, persuading and cajoling the trusting wolf advocate. It doesn’t matter how educated or street smart you think you are, “That’s because scam artists play to emotions, not intelligence.” according to Reader’s Digest. I’ve been conned three times since the wolf hunts in Wisconsin began in 2011. Unsuspecting and desperately trying to protect wolves I became a victim of these con artists. They play on ones emotions because of the “love for wolves.” And that’s because wolf advocates have big hearts.
Attention seekers using shocking photos in the post to get you mad enough to hit the donate button is creating a culture of cons in wolf advocacy. They play on the soft hearted wolf advocates…
And I’m not the only one that has been scammed by these con artists. It doesn’t just happen in Wisconsin. I’m hearing stories of wolf advocates being conned all over the United States. As I’ve previously stated the cause of wolf advocacy is fairly new. Causes have changed drastically because of social media. Facebook has made it fairly easy for wolf advocates to share news, events and actions. Using Facebook as a means to protect wolves is a wonderful tool. Because of actions being shared on Facebook; Congress passed the 2018 spending bill without the War-on-Wolves anti-wolf riders that would eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Thus, thanks to sharing those action alerts on Facebook wolves were kept safe for now.
What’s the downside of using Facebook? It’s easy to create a Facebook page about wolves. Then create a gofundme to collect wolf advocate’s money for the cause. Is it a genuine way to collect money for your cause? Yes it can be, but not in the hands of the con artists. These confidence men or women know how to get your money.
The most successful cons hinge on desire; what can the con artist offer the victim that will make them abandon rational thought for the promise of fantasy?
In other words, the con artists play on the wolf advocates love for wolves and their desire to protect wolves. Are wolf advocates doing their homework when it comes to researching if these Facebook pages are really doing what they claim? As I’ve stated was conned early on by a Facebook page that was recommended by another advocate. Myself and several other wolf advocates learned the hard way about cons because we didn’t do our research.
“Social proof, one of psychologist Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, says that people are more likely to do things if they see other people doing them first; You’re more likely to friend a stranger on Facebook if the two of you have mutual friends, right? But social proof is easier to fabricate than you’d think.” According to Reader’s Digest
It’s easy for the con artists to play on your emotions because you want desperately to keep wolves safe and protected. These con artists put up quite a deceptive cover. They create quite the “cover” in order to protect or conceal the deception.
How does the con artists play on your emotions? Using shock imagery is one way of getting attention brought to the cause.
“Since there is so much going on in the world around us, some organizations within the animal rights movement have taken to using shocking images and tactics as a way to grab our attention and cause a change in our beliefs and behaviors. When it comes to interests groups, their use of attention-seeking behavior and advertising is done to gain support for a cause as well as solicit funds, recruit new members, and bring about a change in beliefs.” (Source)
The bad news is the the same “shock imagery” can be used by the con man to play on the wolf advocate’s love for wolves. We’ve all seen these horrible images of wolf hunters on Facebook pages. It triggers our emotions because we want to protect wolves. This shock imagery can be a useful tool for the con artists. Especially when a gofundme is added to these shocking images that play on the emotions of the unsuspecting wolf advocate.
“Questions have arisen regarding the success of shock-imagery campaigns. On the one hand, attention is drawn to the issue, but on the other hand the message may not be taken seriously due to the extremism involved. Instead, rather than focusing on the issue, the group becomes the center of attention. Could extreme tactics such as this actually harm the organizational goals of the animal rights movement?” (Source)
Thousands of wolf Facebook pages and groups have shown up since the wolf hunts began. Don’t get me wrong as it’s a good thing to have so many pages created out of the love and admiration for wolves. There are many well intentioned wolf advocacy groups that are doing the necessary work to protect wolves.
Using shock imagery is also a tool for the con artists. A cause in itself is a beautiful thing but what happens when the desire for attention and financial gain enters the mix?
I’ve been involved in wolf recovery for two decades now. In a conversation with another seasoned wolf advocate we discussed the well meaning advocates and the con artists that have shown up in the cause. That conversation is one of the reasons for writing this story. As I’ve stated it’s a wonderful thing that so many people have become wolf advocates. Wolves now more than ever need our help.
The following video is one of the many reasons wolf advocates work so hard to protect wolves.
What can you do as a wolf advocate to protect yourself from becoming scammed by these con artists? For one, ask for accountability. Ask for proof of their actions. Proof in the form of providing paperwork, and this should all be transparent and freely given to you without any argument.
Where is the money you donate going? Don’t be afraid to ask and if you feel intimidated by their response, then there’s something not right.
Don’t fall for the confidence game of using shock images especially when there’s a gofundme involved. These types of scam artists use exaggerated claims of actions to gain your trust. Don’t be fooled by how they take credit for actions or events to switch the focus on them. This is how they get your money.
When you’re vulnerable, your world no longer makes sense. Con artists are people who are happy to make sense of it for you.
Finally, con artists use your love for wolves to play on your emotions to get what they want. We’ve all heard, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” Everyone thinks they’re too smart to fall for a scam, but it’s not about intelligence. When you’re overly excited about the opportunity to be involved in saving wolves, a fast talking con artist, can make offers that are “too good to be true” sound like sure bets.