Confronting Scammers & The Consequences Of What Can Follow 2019 [UPDATED 2024]

Confronting Scammers & The Consequences Of What Can Follow

It Is A Bad Idea To Confront Them When You Catch On To Them!

What Happens When You Confront Your Scammer? Only Bad Things!

Psychology of Scams – A SCARS Insight

•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
Originally Published: 2019 – Article Updated: 2024

Article Abstract

Confronting scammers or any criminal carries significant risks and negative consequences, making it a highly unwise course of action. Despite the understandable urge to expose wrongdoing, such confrontations can escalate the situation, endangering the victim further. Scammers, particularly skilled professionals, may retaliate with threats, insults, or blackmail, exploiting the victim’s vulnerability.

Additionally, confrontation inadvertently provides valuable insights to criminals, allowing them to refine their tactics and target more victims effectively.

Moreover, such encounters deepen the trauma experienced by victims, prolonging their recovery process and potentially exacerbating financial losses. Instead, victims are strongly advised to prioritize their safety by reporting the crime to authorities and seeking support from trusted sources.

Avoiding confrontation not only minimizes the risk of retaliation but also helps disrupt criminal operations and protect others from falling victim to similar scams.

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Why Confronting Scammers or Fraudsters Can Backfire and What Scam Victims Should Do Instead – Just End the Scam and Block Them

They Lie, of course they do! But it is NEVER wise to call them out on it!

We see and hear this literally every day

A victim discovers the scam and confronts the scammer.

We tell them not to, but few listen – it’s full steam ahead until they slow down and learn.

Never Confront Scammers or Any Criminal

Confronting scammers, or any criminal, is full of risks and potential negative consequences.

While it may seem satisfying to expose their wrongdoing or seek justice, doing so can escalate the situation and put the victim in real danger.

First and foremost, confronting a scammer can lead to retaliation, including threats, insults, or even blackmail. Scammers, particularly professional ones, are adept at manipulation and may resort to aggressive tactics to protect their interests or cover their tracks. Moreover, confronting a criminal can inadvertently provide them with valuable information about their tactics and vulnerabilities, enabling them to refine their methods and target more victims effectively.

Remember, these are professional cybercriminals. They have money, resources, and particularly skills that can cause severe damage to victim’s lives. Make them angry and they may make a project of harming the victim! They also have associates in nearly every country now. Would you want one of them showing up at your front door?

Confronting scammers can also make the trauma that victims will experience much worse. Many individuals who fall victim to scams already endure significant emotional distress upon realizing they’ve been deceived. Confrontation can intensify these feelings and prolong the recovery process, leading to increased stress and anxiety. Additionally, engaging with scammers prolongs the victim’s involvement in the fraudulent scheme, potentially perpetuating financial losses and further undermining their well-being. That anger that is unleashed while confronting the criminals can also lead to maladaptive coping mechanisms that make recovery more difficult.

Instead of confronting scammers directly, victims are advised to prioritize their safety and well-being by reporting the crime to appropriate authorities and seeking support from trusted sources. This approach not only minimizes the risk of retaliation but also helps disrupt criminal operations and protect others from falling victim to similar scams.

You Are Not Thinking Clearly

Let us first say, that we are not attempting to call victims stupid or blame them but these crimes do cause impairment beginning in the instant of discovery. This is called cognitive dissonance.

We are attempting to point out that victims made poor decisions before, during, and all too often after the scams, and will still do it for some time after the scam. Each victim has to learn and change their behavior to reduce or eliminate that risk.

We Hear Over And Over
Thousands Of Times A Month
How Victims Say They “Were Not Thinking Clearly” During The Scam

The problem is that most of them are still not thinking clearly after the scam, and they will not for some time. This is not their fault, they were expertly lured in, groomed, manipulated, and controlled, but scam victims need to understand this and accept that it had and has a tremendous impact on their thinking and decision-making.

Those who learn from the experience will change their behavior and their thinking and successfully recover from the trauma that they suffer. A significant percentage hide from the experience and do not learn from it at all.

Scam Victims Acting Unwisely

In the time period following a scam, scam victims will do a number of things that are very unwise.

Remember also, that in the real world, there are real consequences for our actions. You learned that from the mistake of talking to a stranger that led to a romance scam or another type of scam, but confronting the criminal is just compounding it again!

When the Scam Victim Discovers & Confronts the Criminal

Let’s explore that concept for just a moment: the victim has discovered a crime and now confronts the criminal.

Would you confront a murderer yourself? Would you confront a rapist yourself? Would you confront a serial killer yourself? Would you confront a drug dealer yourself? Well actually, a surprising number of people do just that every day, and a surprising number don’t survive that confrontation.

It’s all about impaired judgment (notice we did not say they were stupid – we said their judgment or cognition was impaired, meaning they were not thinking very well about the consequences). This is just a fact of life for traumatized scam victims.

Let’s go back to the scammer confrontation. Once again the victim is a person who was groomed, manipulated, and controlled, the scammers impaired their thinking so the victim exercised poor judgment, but it was not their fault, and eventually, saw the obvious scam in front of them.

What do MOST Scam Victims do Next?

Those who make the effort to learn can avoid another consequential mistake, but those who do not, exercise more poor decision-making and confront the criminal!

Why is Confronting a Scammer a Bad Thing?

Have they considered all of the possibilities?

Here are a few possibilities that come from confronting scammers (actually they do happen all the time – in order from most likely to least likely):

  1. The scammer gets angry and threatens them, insults them, and tries to blackmail them – this happens in about 50% of all romance scams.
  2. The scammer makes the victim a mission – doing everything they can to cause harm, from further cybercrime to identity theft.
  3. The scammer blocks you – this happens in cases where the scammer threatens but also when they do not, they just cut the victim off.
  4. The scammer tries a Guilt or Flip Scam on the victim (see below) – the “Yes I am a scammer, but I love you” scam – this happens in about 40% of all romance scams
  5. Revenge – spreading lies about the victim to their family and friends
  6. Sextortion – threatening to share personal photos they gave the scammer with their family and friends

With Confrontation comes more Trauma

Confrontation results in significantly deeper psychological trauma that the victim subjects themselves to as a result of this.

Each victim, when they discover the crime should follow basic survival guidelines of:


Always remember that this was not the victim’s fault, but it was a mistake, and victims can easily continue to make more of them unless they stop.

Confronting an 8-year-old shoplifter has little risk for the person doing the confronting, but professional criminals are a different matter. Where did the decision come from that it is ok to confront someone like that?

Sadly, impaired cognition from the cognitive dissonance that resulted from the discovery of the crime. This is a real thing and normal for most humans.

However, the victim is also subjecting themselves to dramatically increased stress by the confrontation itself, especially confrontations that go badly and lead to threats, insults, or other abuse.

The majority of the recovery time following a scam is actually caused by the trauma that occurred at the end of the scam. Understand that the scam did not cause the trauma, but the scam victim’s reactions to the scam are what causes the injury.

Confrontational Consequences

The scam victim confronted the scammer and now they have to deal with it!


A very large number of scammers get angry when the scam is discovered. Most do not have the professional manipulative skills needed to flip the original scam into something new so they employ threats – which in many cases work too. Victims are emotionally fragile and vulnerable when the scam is discovered and a forceful threat can push them into continuing the payments for a while more. However, scammer threats, almost universally have no real power – meaning they are just more lies. In most cases, you should ignore them and cut off the scammer so you do not inflict more emotional pain on yourself by listening to the scammer.

However, scammers also work very hard to steal from their victims. They pour huge amounts of time and intellectual energy into these crimes. When they are told that they failed anger is a natural reaction. It is unfortunate that victims put themselves in the position of having to hear it.


When many scammers are told they are scammers, they immediately recognize they are not likely to get anything more and just block the victim.

This is not exactly what it may appear.

These scammers know from experience that victims are going to be desperate for answers or closure. Was the scammer really a scammer? Did they make a mistake and insult an honest person who loved them? The uncertainty and guilt goes on and on. But this is also the setup for a follow-on or end-game type of scam.

One scenario is that the victim is contacted by someone claiming to be a family member or other authority that can step in and either assert that the scammer is innocent, OR that they are indeed a scammer and they will do something to help the victim get their money back.

Even the simple act of the scammer blocking the victim can set the stage for a follow-on or end-game scam – fake law enforcement scams, private investigator scams, money recovery scams, intervention scams, and more.


Scammers are not the same as the victims – meaning they come from different cultures where revenge is a normal part of daily life. So revenge is something they would naturally employ if it gives them an advantage over the victim.

However, it is important to remember that to the criminal this is a business. They will not waste time when it does not make them money. Except when it becomes personal and this can happen in relationship scams where the criminals have invested months or even years.

In the case of romance scammers, it is important to remember that scamming is very time-consuming. Scammers do not have time to waste on victims who will not pay. They will only use actions when they believe it is a good investment of their time. So revenge in any form must be considered if it will have a return on their investment. However, it is a very difficult one because most victims will pull away further if there is any revenge – so it can backfire.

Revenge can take many forms, such as threatening family or friends (these become blackmail scams); threatening a business owned by the victim (simple extortion), or disclosing secrets shared by the victim with family and friends which could embarrass the victim (again a form of blackmail). Fortunately, in today’s online world full of crazies and haters, almost anything can be explained away, so such threats have little power if viewed properly.


Most of these criminals are focused on particular types of crime and focus on these. However, many of these gangs know other criminals that specialize in Identity Theft, and it is very common for the victim to have given the scammer more than enough information to take over their accounts and steal their identity.

After a scam is over, it is wise for every victim to assume that their accounts are at risk and their identity will be stolen.


This is an exploding form of blackmail and extortion where victims have shared compromising photos with another (in this case the scammer) and they are then used to blackmail the victim. Sadly many romance scam victims engage in unwise activities with a total stranger and have to face the consequences of this. But again, like other forms of revenge, there is little power if the victim simply blocks and walks away.

The scammer counts on the victim’s own panic to enforce payments. They rarely take the time to map out who they would send them to in advance, so if you cut them off they are unlikely to bother since they will have other victims still on the hook.

HOWEVER: We have to tell you that there is some risk. So you are well advised to report every scam to your local police every time and be sure to tell them anytime there is a hint of extortion and let them advise you.

Just remember one thing about sexually explicit photos that could be used for blackmail. In today’s photoshopped or AI-generated world, you can simply tell your family and friends that the photos are not real – most people will believe you.

The Scammer has been Confronted, so what’s the Problem?

Alright, so the deed is done, the scammer has been confronted.

What’s the problem?

This is a THREE-pronged issue:

  1. First, is expanding dramatically the trauma that a victim experiences
  2. Second, the risk of one of the forms of retaliation or end-game scams
  3. Third, it is also telling the scammer when and how they failed!

SCARS Recommends Never Confronting Scammers!

We also recommend against scam baiting or any form of ‘chasing justice’ because just the time invested in scambaiting helps the scammer practice language and communication skills that they can employ to be a better scammer. Confronting the scammer does the same thing – it clarifies for the scammer where the scam broke down. It gives them a point of reference that they can use to go back and improve their scripts, methods, and approaches – possibly, even change the story narrative they depend on to make it better for the next victim.

More importantly, any form of ‘chasing justice’ or vigilantism will derail a victim’s ability to rapidly recover from the crime. Scam victims must withdraw completely from these crimes and focus only on themselves.

All of this is avoidable if victims do not confront the scammer!

End-Game Scams: the Guilt Scam or Flip Scam

The victim confronted their romance scammer and told them they KNOW they are a scammer.

In a large number of cases, the scammer exploits the victim’s emotions at this critical point of confusion, rejection, and anger to drop a NEW scam on the victim.

This is called the “Guilt Scam” or the “Flip Scam”

This is where the scammer “flips” the situation around by acknowledging that ‘YES’ they are a scammer but that they have grown to deeply love the victim. They try to lay out the story that regardless of how they came to know each other, the scammer has learned to love the victim.

Many victims are confused and desperate at this point. They were in love with the fake identity, and those feelings, hormones, and neurotransmitters are still flooding through them. For many, it is an easy transference from one “person” to the other. Isn’t this called “rebounding” in real relationships? It is both caused by the cognitive dissonance the victim is experiencing and from psychological or emotional transference. These are real things!

The scammer proposes that they continue to maintain contact and that somehow the scammer will pay the victim back.

Many scam victims ill jump at this option, since it plays into their uncertainty, doubt, and guilt. This unfinished nature triggers a major cognitive bias called the Zeigarnik Effect.

This provides the scammer with the opportunity to spin an entirely new tale about poverty, health, and family situations into yet another scam. Because the victim was predisposed to have strong emotions already, many fall for it – hook, line, and sinker. Including sending the newly revealed scammer more money!


The issues are many in the actions of a victim when they discover their scam.

Like a “bull in a china shop,” they often stomp through to post-scam period making things worse in many cases. But, at least understanding the issue can help overcome many of the consequences and help at least to begin repairing the trauma.

We hope this guide helps scam victims to better understand these issues before they cause further harm.

Do not confront criminals!

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit:

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here:

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at

SCARS Resources:

Other Cyber Resources

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  1. Romance Scams Now Editorial Team September 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    To unsubscribe – look for the link on the email

  2. Cristina Rivera September 8, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Iam very nervous and very bad.

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