Galia Yanoshevsky (Bar-Ilan, Ramat-Gan)
Construing trust in scam letters using ethos and ad hominem
The purpose of the talk is to explore trust building in scam letters, by analyzing the way the construction of ethos of the sender, and a favorable image of the receiver lead to action (i.e., transfer of money to foreign bank accounts of strangers). Despite the well recognized genre (each year millions of similar scam letters are diffused through email) and constant warnings issued by world-wide security agencies, each year thousands of people act on behalf of the senders and wire money to complete strangers. It is claimed that this is rendered possible not only thanks to the creation of a reliable image of the sender, but also by constructing a favorable image of the receiver, one that she or he can identify with. The role of identification in the construction of an audience prone to act will therefore also be investigated.