Know our weaknesses to guard against love scams

No amount of chiding or admonition is going to help a person who has become a victim of cheats ("Cheated - men seeking sex, women seeking love"; Feb 13).

Likewise, we can try to educate and warn people, but unless the individual is willing to accept that he is vulnerable to common human weaknesses, sooner or later, he will become a victim.

As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap. And online criminals know that very well; they extend a hand and wait for the potential victim to extend the other.

These crooks know that their prospective victims want to take advantage of them as much as they want to do the same to the victims.

They also know how to push their victims' buttons in order to get them to be compliant - through sweet talking.

It is a human weakness to want to be treated nicely, flattered and coddled. Even if one is not feeling lonely or distressed, a sweet word can stir our spirits and bring cheer.

So, how do we fortify ourselves against such insidious attacks on our weaknesses?

Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu and Greek philosopher Socrates give similar advice. We need to know ourselves first in order to anticipate the enticements offered by the cheats.

Self-awareness, like common sense, is elusive. It demands honesty to face reality.

For example, when one does not own a car, does one feel deprived or accept it as part of life?

Feeling deprived predisposes one to self-pity and envy. We somehow think our lives have been short-changed and that we deserve better.

So, when an opportunity comes along to make up for this deprivation, one should not be surprised if one readily succumbs to the offer.

Did the victims unwittingly succumb to the cheats? I doubt it.

I say this not to be unkind but to stress the need to take responsibility for our own follies.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)