Fact is, most people in the US just aren't educated enough to recognize a scam. Look at the earning income and imagine their lives and how desperate one can get. Why do you think those damn AMWAY scams work so well. Promises of a better income for less than well off people.
Notice how I'm not saying stupid people. Just not educated for whatever reason. Most of the people that read slashdot are VERY tech knowledgeable. We grew up with this. Most of the people who get conned, didn't.
Whether they were too poor to afford a home computer and internet access, or were ahead of the technical wave... it doesn't matter. Remember, the internet hasn't been around that long in comparison to everything else. In the past 30 years, we've advanced more than we have in 300 years. Some people simply cannot keep up or get confused and don't try.
It's always easier to be ignorant than try to learn. Look at the statistics in the link I gave you. 27% of the people in the US over the age of 25 have a college degree (This is Bachelors, PHD, Masters, Associates... etc). I bet about 90% of slashdot readers has a college degree of some kind.
So it's suddenly surprising to you that with all this technology and most of the people not growing up with the technology, we have a lot of VERY uneducated people that are easily scammed?
I'm not excusing their behavior, and the fact that they fell for something that was too good to be true, means they fell into two categories
Otherwise, you typically don't fall for things like that. Just remember that you are in the top echelon of educated people in the US. What's easy for you to understand and grasp isn't for them. But that doesn't make it okay for trash like this to exploit them. In fact it means that they are the worst kind of trash and low life who KNOWINGLY did it again and again and again.
I have no remorse for any punishment they get. I personally hope they go to prison and meet one of the people whos' lives they ruined financial... who then turned to crime to survive because they didn't know better.
I can only conclude you're a bit on the young side if you believe the cure for being suckered is to become highly educated. Live a few more decades and you'll realize highbrows with PhDs are at least as easy to con as the plain folks who fix your car and take your trash away. Probably easier, actually, since the former's intellectual arrogance will blind them to the possibility that they might be fooled.
Of course, the scams intellectuals fall for -- dot-com stock, "flipping" hot Bay Area real estate with subprime mortgage money, socialism, etc. -- tend to be more complex and dazzling then the ol' ATM switcheroo or Nigerian bank fraud. And, since well-spoken intellectuals control the narrative, we tend to laugh at the fools taken in by penis pills while we "smart" people smugly shop for micronutrients, dehydrated horse piss and extracts of Chinese weeds at the organic food store to ward off cancer. Ha ha indeed.
A susceptibility to being conned is part of your character, not a function of your intelligence or education. It's a question of whether you tend to think you know more than you really do, and are willing to make assumptions not backed up by data.