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Internet threat

Nameless, faceless and borderless – millions of sociopaths prowl the Internet

More than 2.4 billion people worldwide are using the Internet as of 2012, according to the Internet World Stats website.

You should assume that between 24 million and 96 million Internet users are sociopaths.

Why? Experts believe that between 1% and 4% of people are sociopaths. Sociopaths can be found all around the world and among all segments of society—including Internet users. If between 1% and 4% of 2.4 billion Internet users are sociopaths, then there are between 24 million and 96 million sociopaths online.

The following Internet usage estimates come from Internet World Stats. Based on this information, Lovefraud calculated the number of possible sociopathic Internet users in just a few countries—and it’s scary.

Country Internet Users Possible Sociopaths
United States 245.2 million 2.5 million to 9.8 million
United Kingdom 52.7 million 527,000 to 2.1 million
Germany 67.5 million 675,000 to 2.7 million
Japan 101.2 million 1 million to 4 million
Canada 28.5 million 285,000 to 1.1 million
China 538.0 million 5.38 million to 21.6 million

Why the Internet is dangerous

The Internet is custom-tailored for sociopaths. It provides them with unlimited opportunities to manipulate and defraud people. Here’s why:

1. An endless supply of victims

Con artists can dream up a scam, and millions of potential victims—from all over the world—are only a mouse-click away.

You know how easy it is to send an e-mail. It’s just as easy for sociopaths. Skilled computer con men can set up a web site or send out an e-mail in minutes. If they get caught and a Internet service provider (ISP) shuts them down, they just create a new web site or e-mail account somewhere else.

2. The Internet is anonymous

There is no way to know for sure who is behind a web site or e-mail address. Anyone can call themselves anything. Anyone can make a web site say anything. In fact, some con artists have replicated the design of legitimate web sites so they can steal credit card information from unwitting consumers.

Many people use anonymous remailers because they want to protect their online privacy. These computer programs remove name and address information from message headers, making it impossible to identify the sender of a message. Anonymous remailers are great tools for con artists out to defraud people as well.

3. The meaning is missing

When you’re talking to someone face-to-face, most of the true meaning of the conversation comes from nonverbal cues—tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. How much do you depend on these nonverbal cues? Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell estimated that 65% of human communication is nonverbal; linguist Deborah Tannen estimates that up to 90% of meaning comes from nonverbal cues.

That means when you communicate via e-mail or the Internet, 65% to 90% of the meaning is lost.

You can’t see what the other person looks like, hear the tone of voice, watch gestures and posture. So what do you do? Most people tend to fill in the gaps by assuming the message means what they want it to mean.

At the very least, the lack of nonverbal cues in e-mail and Internet communication can lead to misunderstandings. When one person’s intention is to manipulate another, this critical lack of information can lead to disaster.

Next: Fraud on the web