Psychopaths and sociopaths are likely to appear friendly and generous. They are masters of deception, adept at faking emotions they don’t actually have—compassion, remorse, or humility—to win trust or gain power over others. Behind a convincing facade of respectability, intelligence, and high moral standards, they operate outside of standard ethical boundaries; recruiting lower-level psychopaths to do their bidding and manipulating normal, “good” people into accepting or supporting their shady agendas.
over-intellectualization – victim tries too hard to understand and believes the manipulator has some understandable reason to be hurtful.
emotional dependency – victim has a submissive or dependent personality. The more emotionally dependent the victim is, the more vulnerable he or she is to being exploited and manipulated.
Manipulators generally take the time to scope out the characteristics and vulnerabilities of their victim.
According to Kantor, the following are vulnerable to psychopathic manipulators:
too trusting – people who are honest often assume that everyone else is honest. They commit themselves to people they hardly know without checking credentials, etc. They rarely question so-called experts.
too altruistic – the opposite of psychopathic; too honest, too fair, too empathetic
too impressionable – overly seduced by charmers. For example, they might vote for the phony politician who kisses babies.
too naïve – cannot believe there are dishonest people in the world or if there were they would not be allowed to operate.
too masochistic – lack of self-respect and unconsciously let psychopaths take advantage of them. They think they deserve it out of a sense of guilt.
too narcissistic – narcissists are prone to falling for unmerited flattery.
too greedy – the greedy and dishonest may fall prey to a psychopath who can easily entice them to act in an immoral way.
too immature – has impaired judgment and believes the exaggerated advertising claims.
too dependent – dependent people need to be loved and are therefore gullible and liable to say yes to something to which they should say no.
too lonely – lonely people may accept any offer of human contact. A psychopathic stranger may offer human companionship for a price.
too impulsive – make snap decisions about, for example, what to buy or whom to marry without consulting others.
too frugal – cannot say no to a bargain even if they know the reason why it is so cheap
the elderly – the elderly can become fatigued and less capable of multi-tasking. When hearing a sales pitch they are less likely to consider that it could be a con. They are prone to giving money to someone with a hard-luck story. See elder abuse.