RSN™ Guide: Sharing Your 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. Story
Recently a series of incidents occurred where victims have come forward to speak with the press and others and it resulted in serious consequences for the victim.
We are not going to disclose the details or the identities of the victims involved. However, the consequences of “coming out” can be life-changing and it is not something to consider lightly.
FIRST: We Recommend Sharing Your Story
Sharing your story will help you process what happened to you and is very cathartic. Every time you tell the story of your romance scam it loses a little power over you.
We suggest that you should be doing it with therapists, counselors, in 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., and with family members (eventually). But in each of these settings, there are risks that you have to think about and make sure you are ready for.
In talking with mental healthMental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health". professionals, it is probably a good thing to discuss your situation early so they can help you in every way you need. Medical professionals will maintain your confidentiality in most cases, so there is very little risk.
SECOND: Sharing With Family
Talking about this with your family is something else. You have to consider how it will impact your relationship with your individual family members and how judgmental they will be. You also have to consider how much of the details you will share. You don’t have to tell them everything.
Do you talk about the money? Do you share how traumatized you are?
Each person is different. Sharing with your family can be a way for them to understand and help support you – maybe even financially, since you may be penniless after your scam. Either way, do this with caution and be prepared for reactions – positive or negative.
Sadly, there is no right time to talk to your family, but we believe it is based upon need – your need. If you do not need them to know or need their help, then put off telling them for a few months till you are better able to deal with the impact it will have on them and yourself. If you need immediate help from your family to survive then do what you have to do. Same with your friends.
We strongly recommend that you also have someone to turn to if this goes badly. Have a Crisis Hotline number available in case you desperately need to talk with someone. (Look Here for Crisis Hotlines Numbers)
No matter what, this event happened in your life and to deny it is not healthy. We offer support and discussion groups for romance scam victims on Facebook in an environment of victims only without drama or judgment. You are welcome to join us (see below).
THIRD: Sharing With Local Crime Victims’ Advocates
Most communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe have local crime victims advocates. Most of these are volunteers that help victims through the justice system but are there to help victims at the local level. We encourage you to seek them out if they are available and see what resources and support they know of or can guide you to.
Local Victims Advocates are also helpful in helping YOU report 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. to the local policeLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first.. They can be there (if it is available) as a sounding board and a support when the police cannot do anything but take the report. The report matters very much, but you may have expectations not consistent with what is possible. Having someone to talk to about that can help make that process less stressful for you.
FOURTH: Sharing In Comments Online
After you have been scammed you have so many mixed emotions.
You are full of regret. Full of 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.. Full of sadness and despair. You are confused and don’t know how to get your money back, or even how to react.
You start searching online for information, support, and help. You think there must be someone online that will help you. Of course, there are scammers galore out there waiting to find you at your most vulnerable – frankly, that is just after your scam. You already were manipulated once, you can be again and that is what scammers count on.
Unfortunately, this makes you vulnerable to a multitude of additional scams and abuse.
There are two major dangers to you during this period:
- Being scammed again, such as by a “recovery expert” who promises to get your money back, or an “investigator” who is going to track down your 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. and have them arrested.
- Or being led astray by a “scam zealot” or “scam vigilante”
Recovery scamsRecovery Scams If you've already fallen for a scam, another scammer may call you and offer to get you your money back for a fee. Their goal is to double-dip and steal more of your money. Unfortunately, in most cases, only real law enforcement or your government can get your money back. There are exceptions, but you are safer to avoid all recovery options. are very common and these scammers hang around anti-scam groups looking for victims who tell their story in comments about scam related stories, articles, or posts. Most victims immediately identify themselves as victims in public – opening the door to the scammer watching and waiting.
Investigation scammers usually advertise their services in one of several ways. These may or may not be African scammers, they may just be businesspeople offering a service. However, never pay someone to investigate a scammer. The simple offer of that service is just another way to manipulate you and take more money. Scammers live in other countries ruled by different laws. To get them brought back to your country involves international cooperation and extradition treaties. In short, don’t waste your money or your hope that something magical is going to happen. It will not – at least not often.
Now let’s talk about zealots and vigilantes.
Many victims have a burning need to take control after they are scammed. They read a little about the subject and become instant experts at everything from international law to social engineeringSocial Engineering Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is used as a type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme. It has also been defined as "any act that influences a person to take any action that may or may not be in their best interests." manipulation to how victims should recover. The sad truth is they know very little about any of it, but they are persuasive and convincing. They also hang out on social media and frequently have their own amateur anti-scam Facebook pages, groups or blogs.
The problem is they are not really concerned with you, you are a means to an end. You are their way of convincing themselves that THEY NOW KNOW BETTER! By following them, you are the confirmation or affirmation THEY NEED to feel better about what happened to them. You are just a tool being used. Eventually, you will discover this and move on, but in the meantime, you will have lost so much time that you could have been using to recover.
In short, all of this could have been avoided by being more careful with what you say in comments!
FIFTH: Sharing Your Story With The Press / Media
There are typically two main reasons for wanting to talk to the press about your scam:
- You may be driven to try to help other people so they do not become a victim as you did.
- You have heard that talking about what happened to you is good for you – and it is, up to a point.
However, after the scam, you are hurt and you need to heal. You can’t worry about others when you are in pain, that is totally the wrong way to approach it. If you try to help others while you are in pain you are not really helping them and not even doing a very good job of helping yourself. Stay focused on your own recovery first.
Talking about the scam can be very helpful if done in the proper context where it is safe, such as in one of our support groups. But it is important to understand where you are in the process of recovery before you do this and to do it in a way that helps you heal.
SHARING YOUR STORY IS NOT ABOUT HELPING OTHERS (THAT CAN COME LATER) IT IS ABOUT HELPING YOURSELF FIRST
Now understand that the Press have but one objective – to sell stories. Reporters are paid to deliver stories not care about you. The more horrific the crime the better because that is what draws their audiences. You certainly had something horrific happen to you but is that what you want to talk about?
You know the reporter is going to focus the story on the juicier bits of you and your experience. It is just what they do. Of course, there are exceptions, but very few. Your story is just another 5 minutes in the daily news feed that people are addicted to. Is this really what you want?
So before ever sharing your story with the Press or Media, ask yourself these questions:
- How does this benefit YOU?
- How does this affect your life – letting family and friends learn about it in public like this?
- What will your family’s reaction be?
- What will your friend’s reaction be?
- What will your employer think?
- Can it affect your business relationships?
- How will this affect your future prospects?
- What if you broke laws in the process of being scammed – will you have legal liability as a result?
- Could it triggerTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. unforeseen events – financial, legal, trust?
- Could it trigger other victims to come after you – trust us when we say there are haters and trolls out there?
- Could it trigger more scammers to come after you – they will know you and can focus recovery and other scams on you.
By broadcasting your story around your region it may have a disproportionate effect on your life that you neither need or want at this stage.
It is the recommendation of 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. that NO VICTIMS talk to the press at least until a year or two has passed since your scam, and even then you should carefully consider all the potential impacts.
If you want to talk to a reporter, let us screen the reporter or media outlet to help you understand their intentions! Have your reporters contact us at Press@AgainstRomanceScams.org and we will respond.
After a scam, you now know that you have judgment issues and can be manipulated. How you overcome this is by being that much more careful about all decisions you make, and by developing safety habits online. You will not be able to completely trust yourself for months after the scam, so it is best to avoid situations that can lead to future problems. We don’t mean that you should crawl in a hole but we do mean avoid dangerous situations, and talking to the press is one of those.
We hope this guide helps you understand the consequences of sharing and when it is good or when it can go wrong.
We wish you all the best and hope that you recover fully!
a division of Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams Inc. [SCARS]
Miami Florida U.S.A.
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- Your National Police or 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. (www.IC3.gov)
- The Scars Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
Visit our NEW Main SCARS™ News & Information Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.News.And.Information
To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org
Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
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