How does affinity fraud occur?

Affinity fraud is perpetrated by an individual or a group of individuals. It generally starts off by targeting a certain group or community. The perpetrator may already be part of the community or group, or may join the community by capitalizing on a shared trait that unifies the group. In some instances, the perpetrator may simply be pretending to have the same trait as those they target in order to gain access.

Once the perpetrator is accepted as part of the group, they will look to gain the trust and respect of the leader of the group. After successfully establishing this relationship, the perpetrator will pitch an investment idea to the leader, in order to extract money from the whole group.

The leader will then communicate the investment opportunity to the rest of the group, either formally or informally. In outlining the opportunity for financial profit or other reasons to provide the money, the fraudster will likely play upon the emotions of their victims, such as talking about an obligation, or a religious duty, for example.

The key aspect to the successful execution of this type of fraud is that the guilty party gains the trust of the individuals in the group. Once trust is established, the community or group will invest their money and in some cases will blindly follow their peers.