(Last Updated On: March 25, 2022)

How To Detect ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. In Someone You Know
A Guide For Family & Friends

You Can’t Help Them Unless You Are Fairly Certain They Are Being Scammed – This Guide Will Help You To Know!

A SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Insight

What If Someone You Know Is A Victim Of FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. Or A ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.?

Here Are Signs To Look Out For

The list of clues:

  1. A big change in their availability
  2. A change in personality – initially like they are in love and later in fear
  3. Being secretive and unsharing
  4. Reluctance to talk about their personal life
  5. Changes in personal finance
  6. Irritability when asking how they are
  7. Asking for money or to borrow money for strange reasons
  8. Always online
  9. They ask oblique questions about the military or specific professions or business
  10. Their sleep patterns change – such as being up all night
  11. Plans for random unexplained travel
  12. They talk about someone they met online

These are but a few of the obvious and detectable changes that someone goes through when they are being scammed.

Here Are Other SCARS Articles For Family & Friends That May Also Help:

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO

This is a man who has gone through several scams and finally lands in trouble. Be careful to observe the way he responds to questions, what he says, and what he told others. All of the symptoms of an ongoing scam were there, and may still be after all. This is a good example of how secrecy and lies are told by scam victims as a result of their manipulation and own personalities.

Helping a Friend or Family Member Can Be Hard

It’s Very Easy To Think That If A Loved One Or Close Friend Was Being Scammed, That They’d Simply Tell You!

WRONG!

Unfortunately, whether your loved one is elderly, vulnerable or simply answered the phone to the wrong person, there could be a variety of reasons why they might keep this information to themselves. And this is even more true for adolescents and millennials.

There are many reasons why they may keep this a secret or even lie about it.

What Are They Thinking?

Sometimes they are aware of what they are doing, but generally, it is a combination of denials and a deep belief in the fantasy the scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. provides – this is the manipulation working. Their logical thinking returns to that of a teen in love totally out of control.

They may be embarrassed that they’ve been duped, they may be too frightened to acknowledge what has happened or, they may not even realize that they’ve been targeted by criminals and are losing money.

While you might think that only gullible people fall for scams, in actuality, everyone can be scammed. It is just a question of the right story, the right manipulation, and the right face to deliver it. It is not a function of intelligence – smart people are scammed all the time too.

The complexity and the professionalism of these online criminals mean that they’ll stop at nothing to gain access to a victim’s personal and financial information, and then their money. Simply put, anyone can be scammed and if the person is more trusting, needy, or has no real knowledge of scams, then they will easily become a victim.

Remember, that they are two stages involved here:

  1. During the scam – hiding to live the fantasy
  2. After the scam – hiding to avoid judgment and shameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness.

DURING THE SCAM

During the scam, the scammer is controlling the victim in many different ways, and this control will show in the victim’s behaviorBehavior   Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams..

The scammer will manipulate them into believing that no one can understand their love or what they are doing, and to keep it secret. Scammers try hard to isolate victims.

In this mental state, victims will do almost anything for the scammer:

  • Lie to family & friends
  • Sell personal property and convert it to cash
  • Remortgage their house and take out loans
  • Share their financial accounts
  • Transport drugs
  • Embezzle and steal from their employers for the scammer
  • Receive stolen property
  • Receive money from other scam victims and forward it to the scammer

All of this to please their scammer!

The Clues – During The Scam

We will identify some of the signs that might indicate your loved one or friend is under the control of their scammer or their own fantasy, and has been the victim of fraud or a scam.

BEHAVIOR CHANGES

A Big Change In Their Availability

Scams are very time-consuming and a victim will get to a point where almost every available moment is spent online chatting with their scammer. The victim will no longer have a lot of time for family or friends. If they are working, then as soon as they get home it is online with their fantasy partner.

This will show as a steady stream of canceled plans, postponements, and avoiding contact. Ironically, there are some of the same symptoms as someone suffering from depression.

Always Online

If a friend or family member is constantly online and over the age of puberty then something is wrong. This can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can also be a sign that they are in a scam. Scams require massive amounts of time, both to control the victim and to get them to do what the scammer wants.

In the beginning, during the groomingGrooming Grooming is a form of setting up a victim for a scam or other crime by befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the victim, and sometimes the family, to lower the victim's inhibitions with the objective of the scam or criminal activity.  Grooming includes the development of a trust relationship between the criminal and the victim, getting the victims to the point where they can be more completely manipulated.   phase, the victim will be online for huge amounts of time. You may notice that every time you log into Facebook you see they are online – same for WhatsApp, etc. If you see them constantly connected, then this is a bad sign and at least worth a discussion.

Being Secretive And Unsharing

A very typical behavioral change in scam victims is secretiveness about many things in their life. Typically scam victims know something is wrong, but they want to believe in the scam relationship so much that they avoid any potential challenges that might burst that bubble. Friends and family represent threats to the illusion, and they can react quite angrily when reality is forced on them, so they will maintain secrecy after the first hint that family and friends do not believe in it. This reluctance to talk about their personal life is to help keep the fantasy alive and avoid conflict because deep down they know what is real.

They Ask Strange Questions

For example, they ask oblique questions about the military or specific professions or businesses. Especially relating to places internationally. This comes out of the blue, particularly with a person who is normally not interested in such topics. Scammers pretend to be soldiers, international oil workers or other professionals, or business people involved in gold and other resources.

Be alert if they ask you about bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. This is a major red flag!

Their Sleep Patterns Change

If you notice that your friend or family member is always tired and they hint that they are now up lake (such as being up all night). Scammers being in Africa or Asia means they often are available to talk in the middle of the night, and in fact use this as a grooming technique. Sleep deprivation is useful in grooming and controlling a scam victim.

They Talk About Someone They Met Online

It can also happen that out of the blue they start talking about someone they met online weeks or months ago. This is often about seeking approval, but it can also be because they are secretly planning a trip. Victims are not always secretive about scam relationships, many times they will announce it from the rooftops! Be cautious if it is already serious and they admit they have not actually met the person!

Plans For Random Unexplained Travel

This is a major danger sign because it can mean they are so under the control of the scammer that they are unable to evaluate real, potentially life-threatening risks! Many scammers will convince the victim that they will meet them in their city, but some are playing a different game that can involve the victim traveling to another country.

This can lead to:

  • Becoming a drug muleMule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes. and potentially spending the rest of their life in jail
  • Or marrying the scammer in a country where the local has total control over the victim – where they become basically a prisoner until they can escape (this is called a Gambia scam)
  • Or they are kidnapped for ransomRansom A ransom is an amount of money or other assets of value that is paid for blackmail, extortion, or under other threats or coercion. The ransom is usually paid in cash or now in cryptocurrency. Online blackmail, sextortion, and ransomware all demand ransoms to avoid negative outcomes. when they arrive and the family or friends will have to pay to get their freedom
  • Or worse still, there have been victims killed when they visit the scammers home

Do whatever you can to stop them from traveling.

They’re Receiving A Lot of Phone Calls

If your loved one or friend is suddenly receiving a lot of phone calls, and hear that they are giving their bank details over the phone then this is incredibly worrying, especially if they’re cagey or secretive about the calls. This is a first-hand example that they are not only being scammed but are almost unable to resist it.

PERSONALITY CHANGES

A Change In Personality – Initially Like They Are In Love And Later In Fear

They may show signs of being very happy like they have just fallen in love – but they are unwilling to talk about it or share. Scammers prefer that their relationship stay a secret and will caution the victim not to talk about it – “because no one will understand.”

Irritability When Asking How They Are

Like previously said, this can also be a sign of depression. But in the case of a scam victim, they become irritable when anyone asks too much about how they are or other aspects of their daily life. When they go into secretive mode all inquiries will be met with some hostility or just lies.

FINANCIAL CHANGES

Changes In Personal Finance

If a scam victim is sending money to a scammer, they are going to change in many different ways. One of them is the need to send money, and it may not be in logical ways. They may send wire transfers through their back or go to a store and buy a bunch of gift cards. Regardless of how they are sending the money it is going to show in their financial behavior.

They Suddenly Have No Money

If your loved one or friend was previously comfortable, had plenty of savings or had a stable income and is now unexpectedly struggling to make ends meet, there could be a scam. Perhaps they’re asking to borrow money from you to cover their bills or to pay for shopping, or maybe they can no longer afford the things they usually enjoy. This could very likely be that they are sending almost everything to their scammer.

They’re Secretive About Their Finances

Of course, most people keep their finances private, but if you find that your loved one or friend is suddenly very secretive about their money or becomes irritated and defensive about their financial situation then it could be a sign that they are in a scam and under the scammer’s control. This can show when a friend or family member sees receipts for financial transactions – a normal person would easily explain it when asked, but a scam victim will get very defensive and refuse to talk about it or lie!

Asking For Money Or To Borrow Money For Strange Reasons

Another big clue is when they start asking for money or loans, but cannot really provide good reasons or say it is for a very sketchy international business investment or transaction. These are all major red flags that the person is being victimized by a scammer. It is important to not loan any money and do what you can to prevent them from getting a loan, it will only hurt them after they finally realize the truth.

AFTER THE SCAM

After the scam victims are consumed by out-of-control emotions and it depends on how long it will have been since the scam ended.

In other articles we talk about the symptoms that victims have after the scam and they are largely dependent on how soon it has been since the scam ended. Of course, not everyone is the same. Some victims will be much more resilient than others. Some may litterally need in-patient care following the detection of a scam.

Here are some red flags to help identify if someone has been scammed:

  • Panic & fear out of nowhere
  • Asking about the police and reporting processes
  • Desperately looking for information online – unfortunately, they often end up with amateur anti-scam groups that really don’t know what they are talking about
  • Looking for anyone that can save them and recover their money – they will be reaching out to attorneys, private detectives and investigators, visiting the FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. and other law enforcement websites
  • Asking for attorney recommendations
  • Spending time talking with bank officers or other financial professionals
  • Neglecting their own family, such as their children
  • Missing important events – such as family birthdays
  • Believing everyone is judging them

These are just a few and we have them detailed in other articles. We suggest that you look at our Psychology of Scams Article Catalog for more information.

What To Do If You Think Your Loved One Has Been Targeted

If you think your friend or loved one is a victim of a scam or fraud, then consider talking to them about it first. Ask them directly if they have been scammed. They may dodge and lie, but just let them know you are there to help them if they want it. Emphasize that you will not judge them.

Listen to them very carefully and remind them that they’re not to blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action., that the scammer is to blame. Also that they are not the only person to have ever fallen for a scam – over 45 million people were scammed in 2020 alone!

Have them immediately read our 3 Steps for New Scam Victims – follow the guidance in it.

This is going to be hard, but they will need friends more than ever. But they are going to be filled with shame. Recovering from a socially engineered relationship scamRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? is not fast. This is serious traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. and it typically takes months to years to recover. There is no way to know how an individual victim will respond.

There are three basic types of victims:

  • In denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.
  • In rageRage Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. and angerAnger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability.
  • A realist

Men tend to be VERY hard to help as they tend to cling to rage and anger. However, what they all need if friends and supporters, but they also need trauma counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling.. Support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., such as those offered by SCARS are extremely effective, but we always recommend that victims also have counseling or therapy.

Just understand that even though the relationship was fake it will feel to the victim that it was very real. This is very much like losing a real loved one. They will be a mess after it is discovered. They will go through real grief following the end of their scam.

Also, they may not be ready to face learning about scams on our website. All of our services, including this website are free, but sometimes it is more helpful to have an actual book. This is why we also publish our SCARS Publishing books for Scam Victims/SurvivorsSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com (see below). We recommend that you order for them the BLUE, RED, and GREEN books to help them work through this – these do have a small cost, but they offer a different way to help the victim face their situation.

Your help and assistance can be all the difference they need for a faster and more complete recovery, but the odds are they will not accept it – at least not at first. Be patient. You may even need to back away and let them collapse further – hard as that is – before they are ready for help, in that way this is very much like addictions. Eventually, they will come around and all you can do is be there.

Essential Tools For Every Scam Victim From SCARS Publishing

Visit shop.AgainstScams.org

Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 31 plus years of experience.

SCARS Website Visitors get an Extra 10% Discount
Use Discount Code “romanacescamsnow” at Checkout

SCARS GREN BOOK - The SCARS STEPS Guide to Scam Victim Recovery

SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide

LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN

This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counseling or therapy, qualified support groups, or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!

Get it here

SCARS SLATE BOOK - A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!

A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS

This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

Get it here

SCARS RED BOOK - Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

SCARS RED BOOK
Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!

Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

Get it here

SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
SCARS CHERRY BOOK - A Guide To Understanding Your Fear
SCARS WORKBOOK - 8 Steps To Improvement
SCARS WORKBOOK - Understanding Self-Blame, Guilt, and Shame
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100% of all profit goes to help SCARS help more scam victims worldwide.

Your generous purchase allows us to maintain our scam avoidance, support, and recovery services. Please help SCARS and stand proud.

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com