For 26 years we have been attempting to help others be aware of and overcome scams.
We were founded by the cofounder of several major online businesses, such as TigerDirect, and through those lenses he saw the initiation and evolution of online scams.
Over the years, we became increasingly aware of how similar, and actually identical, being a scam victim was to being a drug addict. The scam (that is the romance part of it) fuels many basic needs and in fact floods the brain with a real drugs, endorphins, dopamine, seratonin, and more (research is readily available so I will not cover it here).
So as the scam progresses the victim becomes increasingly dependent on it.
Then comes the break. The moment when the scam is seen for what it is.
Except, that all loss (including this one) follows the stages of grief that other forms of loss follow (see the graphic below).
The victim was in fact in love with the scammer, and the realization is worse than a loved one dying, it is a total betrayal and it is the disappearance of the face the person grew to know.
Nothing can make up for it, it is just what it is. They were violated and used in the worst way. The brain uses anger as a way to recover from that trauma. This is just how we humans are wired.
For most, the anger can lead to a next stage in the recovery – sometimes depression, sometimes an attempt to find another solution, and for the healthy ones to eventual acceptance. Unfortunately, many become