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Psychology of Scams: How Do You Get Closure?
Closure Can Mean Different Things For Different People
CLOSURE may be what someone needs to move on after a long relationship, after the death of a loved one, after a traumatic childhood event, or to overcome feelings of guilt for hurting someone in the past.
However, closure after a romance scam is a different matter entirely.
With a Romance Scam, there is no body to bury, there is no real person, no criminal arrest, no recovery of your money. You are left with just thin air, a blank screen, and all of the after-effects of addiction and grief all rolled into one.
If you are seeking closure after a romance scam then there are some strategies that you can use to get closure.
First, Let Us Say That Recovering From Romance Scams Is Not Easy!
You are going to go through hell before you can feel safe and comfortable again. But we have helped thousands go through this over our 28-year history and you can get through this too.
If you need help you have several options available to you. We offer real safe scam victim support groups, or you can seek counseling or therapy locally. But do not let yourself be drawn into an Anti-Scam Hate group that just obsesses over scammer photos, or Scam Baiter groups that spend their time in the delusion that they are going to stop scammers by wasting the scammers time with silly games. Get the help you need – we are here to help you.
Some Experts Suggest That You Determine What Closure Means To You
Rather, plan a roadmap of the progress you hope to make, try to figure out what closure really means for you. But it has to be realistic for the situation.
WHAT IS REALISTIC?
This is where you will have to confront some very hard truths. Nothing about the truth will be easy. It has hard edges and sharp blades – it hurts.
Let’s explore the basic facts of a Romance or other Relationship Scam:
- You lost your heart to someone that was not real – it was probably a stolen face that doesn’t even know you exist
- Everything you were told was a lie – the name, the history, the relationship
- You lost money – maybe everything you had – to a scammer
- Maybe you don’t even know the real identity of the scammer
- Law enforcement has their hands tied because the criminal is overseas and untouchable
- Even if the scammer is arrested you will probably never know
As Hard as it is these are the truths that you must accept before you can begin to get closure. But closure is not a single moment, it is a process and is part of the larger path of recovery.
What Is The First Real Step?
At this point, we recommend that you read our 3 Steps for New Victims
As we have said to hundreds of thousands of victims, the path begins with the first step. That first step is to acknowledge that it happened and you need help.
It is surprising how many people try to deny they were in a romance scam. They bury it in their soul to fester instead of bringing it out into the light to fade away.
You are going to be in real emotional turmoil after you discover the scam – everything is raw – all the stages of grief. Plus, since these fake romances play heavily with your brain and hormones there are addictive qualities as well. You are going to have to deal with all of this and it is not easy, but you can do it. Especially with help.
Help can come from different directions:
- It can come from family and friends if you have them that you trust and will help you
- It can come from a SCARS Scam Victim Support Group (click here for one of ours »)
- It can come from a local Counselor or Therapist (click here to find one »)
- It can come from learning and understanding (this website is an encyclopedia of scam knowledge »)
- It can come from talking with other victims (but be careful – see below)
Help can come from many different places. Almost all of it will help you in some ways.
BE VERY CAREFUL
Help can also come from the worst places that will drive you in the wrong direction too.
In the frenzy to cope with scams, many victims turn to denial or anger. Some develop strong “Messiah Complexes” that leads them to believe they are the only ones that can save other victims. Others believe that because they were a victim they are now instant experts – nothing could be farther from the truth. They form groups that we refer to as Anti-Scam Hate groups that use your anger and hate to fuel their needs and only leave you more traumatized and disillusioned in the end. They spew out hate or wrong information that can leave you more traumatized, not less. Avoid these.
Steps To Closure
We have said that closure is a process. That process is about turning away from the event and looking to your future.
The human mind is an amazing device and if you give it half a chance it will fix itself.
The following are things that you can decide to do that will help you find the Closure that you seek!
1] Acknowledge It Happened
Before anything else tell yourself that you accept that it happened.
Why does this matter? Because it is the act of stopping the second-guessing and letting it be real. It happened. Nothing you can do about it now. Now you have to deal with what is in front of you and also learn to prevent it from ever happening again.
Like all crime victims, you will endlessly replay the event over and over. How you could have prevented it, what you could have done differently. But none of that matters because it did happen and you did not have the ability to prevent it. If you can accept that then you can move on to dealing with what you face and also to learning how to prevent it from ever happening again.
A major part of acknowledging that it happened is doing your civic duty and reporting the crime.
Reporting the crime is actually incredibly important for you on the path to recovery and to obtaining closure. It lets you vocalize your feelings about the event to someone even if they cannot help you immediately, they are helping you to acknowledge the event. This is empowering because it also means that you are taking an important step in reasserting your own control over your life again.
After you report the crime (the first time) you will likely feel shaking, maybe angry, that the police did nothing. However, most of the time they cannot do anything, but that is not only why you reported it. After a little time, you will feel some relief and the next report will be easier.
You will need to report it three times:
- Report to your local police if you lost money
- Report it to your national police, such as the FBI always (via www.IC3.gov » unless it was a large amount, in that case, you should report it in person)
- Report it into the SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network (click here or on www.Anyscam.com or other reporting points) – this will distribute it worldwide
Reporting will frustrate you but it is also cathartic for most victims. It is that moment where you can unload a little and see it from the perspective (right or wrong) of another person.
WRITE IT DOWN
We also strongly recommend that you write it all down. If you keep a journal that is a good approach, but we suggest that you sit down and write it all out in words.
This is to help you on many levels:
- It helps to record the crime since your trauma will make your memory unreliable as time goes by
- It helps you to share your story eventually if you chose
- If helps you to explore the extent of the scam and pull out details that will help you avoid them in the future
- Mostly it is simple therapy that experts agree will help desensitize you from some of the pain you are feeling
To learn more about the role that Journaling can play look here »
2] Turning Away
The next stage in the path to recovery is to turn away from the scam. You will be obsessing about what happened to you even after reporting it. It will be tempting to rush out and become a vigilante exposing scammers everywhere because you just KNOW that it end scamming. Wrong.
Romance scams have been going on for decades, growing year after year, even with all the victims that there are posting scammer photos nothing has slowed it before 2017. So obviously looking at and exposing stolen photos does very little.
Obsession in any form after a scam is not a good thing, but more importantly, you need time to heal. You have been traumatized by the violation and the destruction of your trust. These are open wounds that need time to heal.
If you truly want to return to something like your old self then you need to heal and recover, and the way to do that is with help and by minimizing exposure to scams and scammers – especially avoid as much as possible looking at endless streams of scammer’s faces.
You will also have to learn why this happened to you – meaning what was it that the scammers used inside you to manipulate you. That learning can also help you in your recovery and to fully understand how you were not to blame.
3] Share & Care
On the road to recovery is understanding that you are not alone. Recovery is a team sport, meaning it works best when you can share what happened to you and learn from others who are exactly where you are.
By voicing your pain and your experience it reduces the hold the scam has on you. As time goes by you will be able to talk about it and realize you no longer feel pain or shame, that there is no longer the hate and anger in your heart. You will become a person who can return to real life and enjoy things again. These are the benefits of a proper support group.
Just knowing that you are not the only one who has gone through this and there are others far more advanced in their recovery will give you hope!
4] Realizing It Was Not Personal
It feels like an intimate violation of the worst kind, yet for the scammers – and yes it is usually a team of them – it was just business.
In fact, that makes it even more evil but less personal.
Scammers – most of them – work for large organizations – from dozens to thousands. They do what is in their eyes, just a job. They justify it in many different ways. Some view it as a sport – you are the person to be hunted. Some view it as some twisted historical justification – you are the “Colonizer” and they are taking back what is rightfully theirs. Some just never care to justify it, they just need the money. Regardless, it is no different than a telemarketer reading a script – because that is what they are.
For the scammers, you were a statistic – how much money they could get. After you, there are many other victims to move on to. That is a terrible thing to understand, but it means you never had a “connection” with the scammer regardless of what you felt or the scammer told you. That was all illusion, projection, manipulation, and lies. Accepting that is a big step on letting go.
5] The Money Is Gone
Once the scammers receive your money they immediately move it, spend it, invest it. You have seen these huge piles of money in photos, but those are just the bottom feeders showing off their wealth to their fellow gangsters. 99% of scamming is a multi-billion dollar business and as soon as the money is in their hands they protect and hide it.
Scammers have large money-laundering operations worldwide. They move billions out of Nigerian and other countries to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Latin America to shield it. If you sent iTunes cards they are converted to cash within minutes. Scammers are quite experienced in laundering money.
When they move money via money transfer services such as Western Union and MoneyGram they have their own people to receive the money and “verify” the name of the person picking it up – but that is just as fake as everything else. Only a bank to bank wire transfer will give you a real name but even so, getting your money back is equally impossible most of the time.
In cases where scammers are arrested and money is confiscated – something that is happening daily – the local government keeps the money. Giving up on that hope is how you move forward.
6] The Scammer Is Arrested
NO ONE DOES ANYTHING
So many victims say “No One Does Anything.”