Disengaging From A Fake Scam Relationship

The Psychology of Scams

A SCARS Insight

How Do You Free Yourself From A Scam Romance Relationship?

Many Scam Victims Are Not Only Head Over Heels In Love With The Scammer But Also Addicted To The Relationship

After the scam ends there is a huge hole in your life and a profound need – in fact, a dependency on that relationship

In the case of many victims, the scam became addicting. This is basically caused by the constant release and developed dependency on hormones. We will not go into this much, other than to say it happens, and when the scam ends the victim can go through withdrawal craving the continuation of those feelings.

But There Is More Than That

The romance scam is by definition a toxic, very one-sided relationship!

Victims enter into these relationships often from a standpoint of need or other drives. The scammers know this expertly and deliver on that need. You can learn more about that in other articles that we have published on why people are likely to be scammed and elsewhere on the psychology of scams.

From this standpoint, if we do not love and respect ourselves, we will not get the same from people – as the saying goes, and romance scams are no exception.

The Law of Attraction states that like attracts like. This may be true in real life, but in the case of scams, it tends to be that need attracts exploitation. So you must first being to work on some of that need to firmly separate from the scam.

It Begins With Self-Respect!

If you have no self-respect, you attract people who do not respect us and will exploit you.  Thus, the work begins from within. Later in this article, we will exploit building self-respect, but for right now you need to realize that your self-respect may be lacking.

Right now, the scam has ended and you must realize that you are back in control of your destiny.

Your life has always been a series of choices you make, especially in relationships – and yes the scam was particularly a choice – you made the choice to let the scammer in, and then you lost control. We are not here to judge you because you are not really to blame, but realizing that you made that choice will help you now make a new choice to completely end it – to end the dependency.

People can choose the energy they allow to flow through their lives. This is the energy that you will merge with and let permeate your life. Let it be a source of strength and light and not dependency. All relationships have the potential of revealing who you are to yourself. Do not beat yourself up over what you did, but realize you are now at a point of change. Choose wisely. Does this energy feel right at this moment? Do you want to include it in your life?

Focus on your self-respect right now. In fact, let it build anger in you! Not long-term anger and hate, but just be pissed off because this also releases hormones that will help you break the bond the scammer has on you! Go ahead and let that anger manifest right now – just not too long, and not to those around you. If you need to go and sit in your car and yell, that is ok – for now!

Begin the journey of repairing your self-respect by firmly ending this dependency that you feel.

Regaining Control Of The Moment

At this stage after the scam, the scammer has been such a huge part of your life for weeks, months, maybe years that you don’t know what to do without him/her! This is just not going to go away without leaving a giant hole.

Self-respect will help motivate you, but you need to fill that hole and do it quickly. The longer you delay, the more it will undermine your resolve, create doubts, and try to pull you back into the fake relationship (just like it does with any real toxic relationship.) The secret is substitution!

Substitution – Breaking The Bonds

After a scam ends you must substitute other behaviors or activities to fill the time void left by the scam relationship.

You can do this with positive behaviors or with negative ones!

Negative things that scam victims do to substitute for the scam relationship:

  • Staying connected to the scammer even though they know it is a scam
  • Scambaiting or stringing the scammer along to stay connected
  • Rant in comments all over social media, especially on anti-scam pages – regardless of safety
  • Join amateur anti-scam groups that primarily focus on hating scammers
  • Obsess over the face in the photo – even engaging in illegal cyberstalking to track them down and contact them
  • Obsessively fixate on scammer photos – scanning them in the thousands
  • Hunting down scammers and “exposing them” out of a need for vengeance (though they call it “justice”)
  • Blaming the police for not saving them
  • Engage in hostility with those that they think do not understand them, or who have not suffered as much as they have
  • Resist finding or participating in meaningful support or recovery programs

These are just examples of what scam victims will engage in following a scam as a means to provide a substitute for the scam relationship. But there are positive alternatives.

Positive things that scam victims can do to substitute for the scam relationship:

These are all great, but you still have a massive hole in each and every day that the scammer filled. The answer is learning!

Learning As Both A Substitute But Also To Increase Your Resolve

Nothing helps bother your head and your heart better than filling your head with knowledge. Learning is something that humans were designed to do.

We are sponges soaking up everything around us. Ironically we train ourselves to stop doing this when we become adults. Instead, we stop and simply let others shovel it into our heads – the evening news is a great example.

Learning should be a life-long endeavor. It is not hard, and it takes less time than most people think. A book can be more relaxing that TV or Movies, and even a bad book delivers more knowledge than TV ever does.

In The Case Of Scams Knowledge Is Also Survival!

You have so much to learn about what happened, why it happened, how to work through it, and how to avoid them forever after! Yet sadly, most victims do not do this. They will skim over a few articles and think they know enough – they don’t, but more importantly, this is also a way to fill the huge void of time.

By learning why and how scams really happen victims gain life skills that can help them better understand themself and to better ensure their future safety. But it also can fill the time that so desperately needs to be filled.

We do our best to make this easy for you. Our knowledge is passed to you in article format to make it each to consume, to make it easy to learn. We don’t try (always) to layer it on too thoroughly, but provide you will a basic understanding and then allow you to do more research on the topics explored – just like now.

Learning and knowledge are the best and safest way to both help you recover but also to fill the void helping you to fully disengage from the scammer. And surprisingly, the more you do it, the more it becomes easy – you will feel that pull of dependency fading fast.

Added Benefit

As you acquire knowledge about the real workings of scams you will begin to become more confident and this is something you can use to help yourself and others by volunteering your time to help other scam victims! Just wait until you are far along in your recovery. Try to help others too early will just drown you.

The Substitution Plan

Begin By Reading About The Psychology Of Scams

how you became a victim, how to control your feelings, and how to heal – click here when you are ready

Begin Being Aware And Track Your Feelings

A common occurrence among people that were in toxic relationships is the failure to recognize how frequently the negative interactions transpired. They get fixated on the few happy days and use them to overshadow the bad ones. But it was a scam, regardless of how many good times there were, it was all just a lie!

To begin ending the dependency start tracking your feelings. A simple journal entry each day can create a paper trail of your experience. Write about any feelings you had and how you felt. If you see a pattern of negativity, you can correct it through interaction and participation in support groups or in counseling. SCARS Publishes a Journal especially designed for scam victims here.

Prioritize Your Safety & Mental Health

After you end your toxic scam relationship, your perception of safety is always a concern. Don’t face this period alone if possible. Request the presence of a  trusted friend or family member (if possible) to be there for you. If you don’t have anyone available, use the support group to reach people who will understand your pain when you are in need.

When you ended the scam there may have been threats. If you are really afraid you can talk with your local police. The truth is that there is usually nothing to fear, but knowing that and accepting it can be separate things. Do what makes you feel safe.

Cut Off All Communication

Many people that end toxic relationships go through a vicious cycle of ending and reconnecting – this happens with victims too. Put an end to this pattern by cutting off all communication. Consider taking a break from social media and even changing your phone number to remove temptation.

Don’t allow for any manipulative behavior. Scammers will often craft a new story in which they are the victim – they were scamming you but fell in love and now really want to be with you – it is all just more lies. Remember, being master manipulators is their job!  Avoid confrontation and never have any further contact.

Reach Out for Support

Building a strong support network is essential for surviving the end of a toxic scammer relationship. Join a SCARS Support Group (click here), join a local support group provided through a local healthcare provider, a local victims’ advocation organization (a nonprofit), or find a local trauma counselor or therapist.

You can also tell a few trusted people about this to ensure that they know what’s going on. It’s also worth telling your employer’s human resources manager as they may have or know of other resources. If you do not know how to tell them, please read our guide here.

Finally, consider reaching out for counseling or therapy. Toxic relationships – especially scams – have a lasting impact. They can damage your sense of self-worth and value. There’s no shame in working with a professional to heal. Here is the link to a directory of them.

Give Yourself Time

Give yourself time to process your emotions and heal your mental and emotional health. It’s normal to grieve the end of a scam relationship and wish that it could somehow turn back into a real one, due to the inherent co-dependency that often comes with them. But it was not real, and never can be.

Substitute learning and healthy activities to keep your mind occupied. Start a daily journal and follow the following prompts to help delve into your self-image and understand the nature of your fake relationship dependency.


  • Who am I?
  • How would someone describe me?
  • If I had to give myself a report card what would I write in it?
  • What messages about myself/ relationships did I grow up with?
  • What does my family think of me?
  • Do I like myself?  (this is the root of shame)
  • What kind of relationships have I had with people?
  • Have I got what I wanted in relationships?
  • What are my needs in relationships?
  • Have my needs and desires been met? Do I sacrifice and suffer more than I want to or need to?
  • Am I happy?

While in such fake relationships, you feel like you are on a rollercoaster of emotions. Most of them are bottled up, especially after the scam! You feel like you are going to explode!

Try To Refocus

Substitute healthy and positive things for the time that you used to spend with the scammer!

Try to read at least two SCARS articles a day – make it something of a ritual. Spend time with your friends, on your body, your job, etc. Take up a new hobby – especially a creative one. Volunteer (not to help victims, at least not yet – this is too difficult for new victims), instead volunteer where you are caring for someone else – especially animals. See how the attachment holds up when you begin to reduce focus on the other fake person. This is often a good indicator of how healthy you are becoming.

This Can Help!

This approach helps you clarify your own self-esteem, understand and accept that the scam relationship was unhealthy, and understand how to recover from it.

Do your best to replace negative thoughts with positive ones – such as what you are learning and the new friends you have made (in the support group).

Recognize, accept and let go of negative fearful thoughts. This is essential.  In any relationship, real or fake, you have to take responsibility for what happens now. Follow the SCARS Recovery Program and we will help you through all of this!

Don’t blame yourself for everything – often a victim feels guilt, shame, regret, self-hatred, grief, doubt, and is always trying to figure out how to fix it. Remember, it’s not your fault and you probably can’t fix it – no one can. You just have to accept this and do your best to stay occupied and move forward.

All relationships come with pain and happiness. Especially scams. It is natural to remember some good times, this is most common right after the scam ends – in time those will be replaced with reality.

You can change your life to flow in the direction you choose. You can shift the way you relate and communicate. There are ways to reduce the pain, but it all takes time.

Additional Resources

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

Go to reporting.AgainstScams.org to learn how

U.S. FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com
Visit reporting.AgainstScams.org to learn more!