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RSN™ Guide: Sharing Your Scam 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 groups, 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 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 scams to the local police. 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 anger. 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 scammer and have them arrested.
- Or being led astray by a “scam zealot” or “scam vigilante”
Recovery scams 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 engineering 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