From The Content Strate­gist: Last August, Interpol arrested a 40-year-old Nigerian con artist, known only as “Mike,” who was the alleged master­mind of an email scam cartel that swin­dled over $60 million from victims around the world. Mike oper­ated various email schemes including the infa­mous “Nigerian Prince” ruse, which elab­o­rately estab­lishes a heart­breaking and poten­tially prof­itable tale before asking for money.

The prince scams are a case study in the power of story­telling. Before asking for money, the con artists weave intri­cate tales that appeal to people’s emotions. While these scam­mers tend to prey on the gullible, like this 63-year-old Nebraskan woman who lost over $40,000, the more elab­o­rate vari­a­tions call on astro­nauts or London gallerists to target people who may be more sophis­ti­cated. In fact, as Maria Konnikova told Contently in an inter­view about the dark side of story­telling, intel­li­gent people are the most vulner­able to invest­ment fraud. According to another new book, Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, they’re also more likely to join cults. · Go to The science behind the power of story­telling →