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How scammers generate sympathy to make sales

Now for the meat and potatoes

There’s a common advertising tactic that’s been going around lately—we noticed it on Twitter, but it can be found all over. Here’s the three-step ‘scam’:

  1. Dropshipping (or low-quality product) company creates a social media account.
  2. That company runs an ad with copy like, “We are sad to say that our small shop is closing 😔. We’re offering a 50% discount on the rest of our items for the next week until we run out.”
  3. Profit.

We did some digging

Most of the accounts running these kinds of ads are, more than likely, lying. Many of these are new accounts linking to generic, dropshipping-style sites.

The comment sections of these ads are often filled with sympathetic remarks. Whether these are from real people or bots, it’s hard to say. But what we can say is that these ads make money.


Because they generate sympathy. People read the ad, think “they’re closing down, that’s sad,” then “hey, this is kind of a cool product,” then “hey, why don’t I help them out and buy something. Win-win.”

In other words, sympathy serves as the hook for making sales.


We’re not advising you to do this—just the opposite. But, we’re writing about this to show you that sympathy is a powerful hook. If you can find a way to ethically work it into your marketing—whether it’s with real, personal behind-the-scenes of your business or otherwise—you can use it to generate lots of sales. Just be thoughtful, ethical, and careful.