Scam Victims’ Recovery – Acknowledging The Harm Done

Scam Victims – Acknowledging The Harm Done

To Move Forward & Recover It Is Essential That Scam Victims Know What Harm They Did!

Recovery Psychology – A SCARS Insight

How Scam Victims Can Unwittingly Harm Themselves and Others

Scams and frauds are devious crimes that prey upon unsuspecting scam victims, manipulating their trust, and exploiting their vulnerabilities for personal gain.

While scam victims are undoubtedly targeted and manipulated by skilled fraudsters, and while we fully declare that it is not their fault, it is important to acknowledge the complex dynamics at play. In some cases, victims inadvertently contribute to the harm inflicted upon themselves and others during the course of the crime.

This article will explore the ways in which scam victims can find themselves entangled in a web of deceit, perpetuating harm through actions such as lying to loved ones, and financial institutions, and even unknowingly supporting criminal activities like terrorism.

Scam Victims NOTE:

This is not something a scam victim should worry about in the days following the end of a scam. During the first few months after a scam ends, there are bigger and more important issues to face – such as learning about your trauma and the other details of these crimes. But as the months go by, the guilt from these actions will continue to hide inside you, creating lingering guilt and shame that can become a barrier to both their recovery and their relationships with the people that they will most need for support and compassion.

This is a topic we address as a part of our SCARS support & recovery program, and also something we recommend that scam victims address through trauma counseling.

Most victims will not be fully aware they did this, after all, coping mechanisms tend to hide the things scam victims do after the scam ends. But in our experience, almost every victim engaged in some of it. Being able to exorcise this demon is important for every victim’s well-being.

Lying to Family and Friends:

It is important to understand that the victim’s family and to some extent friends are also victims of the scam! The principal scam victim, through their actions or omissions, made them secondary victims.

In the aftermath of falling victim to a scam, scam victims often grapple with shame, embarrassment, and fear of judgment. This can lead them to conceal the truth from their family and friends, perpetuating a cycle of deception. By withholding vital information about their situation, victims isolate themselves and hinder potential support systems. The secrecy may also inadvertently protect scammers from detection and allow them to continue victimizing others.

However, also during the time the scam was going on, scam victims often lie to family and friends about it. There are many reasons for the maintenance of secrecy and deception, but for a scam victim to move forward and recover, it is very important to really look at how much they withheld and lied to others who trusted them.

In a typical relationship (romance or other type) scam, scam victims will often hide many aspects of their relationship with a scammer, especially if friends and family warn them that they suspect it was a scam. The relationship is so important to the victim that they will lie to those they should be confiding in. This can cause significant shame and guilt later on while the victim is trying to recover from the crime.

During a romance scam, victims can find themselves caught in a web of deception, leading them to lie to their friends and family. Here are some common ways in which romance scam victims may resort to dishonesty. This is very common and in part, it is driven by the manipulation of the scammer, but not all of it. While the scam victims is usually not aware that they are being scammed, like in the case of bad relationships, they often hide details that others might find objectionable out of fear of being judged.

Here are some of the types of lies that scam victims often do during a scam.

  1. Hiding the relationship: Often scammers gaslight the scam victim into hiding the relationship, telling the victim that others would not understand and would try to break them up. While this is an omission, it is still a form of deception.
  2. Fabricating the aspects of the relationship: To protect themselves from embarrassment and shame, victims may create an alternate narrative about the person they believe they are in a romantic relationship with. They may invent details about the scammer’s background, profession, or personal circumstances to make the story more believable or to justify their emotional investment.
  3. Shutting out family & friends: As the scam relationship develops, both gaslighting and continuing fear of judgment often cause scam victims to stop talking to friends and family. In fact, in many cases, victims will completely cut off, push away, or even end these relationships – with family members and friends – to be able to maintain the fake relationship.
  4. Concealing Financial Losses: All scams often involve financial exploitation, where victims are convinced to send money to the scammer under false pretenses. To avoid judgment or disappointment from loved ones, victims may hide the extent of their financial losses or the reasons behind their sudden financial difficulties. They may make up plausible explanations or downplay the severity of the situation.
  5. Stealing money: This sounds harsh but many victims take money that is not exclusively theirs. If the victim is married and sends money, that money also belongs to their spouse. Some victims will take money from accounts fo family members that they have access to. In some cases, they will refinance or remortgage property belonging to a family member. In some cases, victims have been known to embezzle money from their employers.
  6. Justifying Suspicious Behavior: Scammers frequently manipulate victims into engaging in questionable activities, such as transferring funds or receiving illicit packages. To mask their involvement and protect their relationship with the scammer, victims may provide false justifications or explanations for their actions. They might claim they are involved in legitimate business ventures or charitable causes when, in reality, they are unknowingly facilitating criminal activities.
  7. Minimizing Red Flags and Warning Signs: As romance scams progress, victims may become aware of warning signs about the relationship. Most victims will remain unaware of the crime, but look at it as a bad relationship and then downplay or dismiss these red flags to maintain the illusion of their relationship. When questioned by family and friends who express concerns, victims may deflect or provide alternative explanations to avoid facing the harsh reality that they have been deceived. This is the kind of behavior seen in domestic abuse as well.
  8. Creating a False Future: Scammers often make promises of a future together to keep victims emotionally invested. In an effort to preserve hope and avoid judgment, victims may embellish or invent details about their plans with the scammer. They may describe upcoming visits, engagements, or even marriage plans, despite the absence of any genuine intentions from the scammer. In effect, they are passing along the lies they are being told as though they are real, but after the fact, the family and friends only know that they were deceived by the scam victim.

It is important to note that victims resort to lying as a coping mechanism, driven by a combination of emotional manipulation, fear of judgment, and a desire to protect the relationship they believe is real. Over time, the lies can become more elaborate as the scam deepens, further isolating the victim from their support network. However, the harm done is nonetheless very real to family and friends, and to the victims themselves.  To move forward with recovery and to remove the shame and guilt, it is very important that each victim make an inventory of who they may have deceived and make a sincere apology to them.

Deception with Financial Institutions:

Scammers manipulate scam victims into engaging in fraudulent financial transactions or providing sensitive personal information.

However, victims themselves can unknowingly contribute to the perpetuation of the scam by lying to financial institutions.

This may involve providing false information, fabricating details, or failing to disclose the true nature of the relationship in their transactions. For example, when sending money, many financial services companies have anti-scam messaging to alert potential victims. Western Union and MoneyGram for example as customers to certify that they actually know the person they are sending money to – this was added after both of them lost regulatory actions several years ago. When victims see such messaging they do not tell the truth and admit they are sending money to someone they only know online,

Similar certifications are often required when sending other forms of money transfers as well. When a victim is untruthful about their relationship, under the law, it can be viewed as wire fraud, bank fraud, and even forgery. While it is unlikely that there would be legal consequences for this, each act of deception increases the victim’s shame and guilt. We do not recommend admitting anything to your bank or financial institution, it is important that you acknowledge that it was done so that victims can put it behind them. However, it is important to let the financial institution know that it was fraud so they can take additional steps and have the transactions properly recorded.

Another way in which victims engage in unwitting deception with their financial institutions is by doing two things:

  1. Giving access to their financial accounts: Not only is this unwise, but it is also illegal in many cases. Banks require that they have a record of each person accessing an account for compliance reasons. When a victim gives access to their account to a criminal, they can easily be dragged into criminal charges for being a money mule and money laundering.
  2. Receiving and Depositing Bad Checks: Often scam victims receive fake or fraudulent checks from the scammers to be deposited in the victim’s account. The idea is to deposit them, and relying on the bank to advance the funds quickly, the victims will withdraw the money and forward it to the criminals. Within a few days, the check will bounce and the bank will want their money. This is not a trivial matter, in fact, in most places this is a specific felony that can put the victim in jail for several years. If the victim is lucky, then the bank will only want their money back and put the matter in collections rather than file a criminal complaint.

In both of these cases, there is the potential for criminal charges against the victim for their actions. The way to help resolve this and declare their innocence is to immediately report the crime to the local police and make sure that the financial details are included. Hiding or not including any of this can make the victim look like an accessory to fraud, and could result in legal complications. Fully reporting the crime to the police, regardless of how difficult it is frees the scam victim from much of their gilt regarding these actions, plus helps them regain control.

Unwitting Support of Terrorism:

It is estimated that as much as 30% of scam revenue goes to support terrorism or terrorist states.

Unfortunately, this means that victims may inadvertently find themselves caught up in scams with ties to funding terrorism.

Fraudsters can exploit victims’ financial resources by persuading them to unknowingly participate in money laundering schemes or invest in illicit activities, as well as sending their own money that will end up in the hands of terrorists. While victims may be unaware of the true nature of their involvement, their actions inadvertently contribute to the perpetuation of organized criminal networks and may have devastating consequences.

Not Reporting The Crime:

The sad truth is that more than 90% of scam victims DO NOT report these crimes.

In every real sense, their inaction is supporting and enabling the criminals to victimize others. There are many reasons why victims do not report the crimes:

  • They believe it will be difficult and they will be judged. Their shame and guilt overcome them and they hide from the reality.
  • They have heard from amateurs and other victims that the police never do anything anyway, so why should they go out of their way, It won’t do any good.
  • They were threatened by the scammers with violence if they reported the crime and they are afraid.
  • They do not want their family to know about the crime.

But the thing is, this is also deception by omission. They are actually aiding and abetting the criminals with their silence. Most people have a sense of right and wrong, and not reporting is not only wrong, but it will weigh on the conscience. The solution is obviously to talk to their local police and get it over. Regardless of what the police do or do not do, their did their duty and can remove this burden from their shoulders.

Believing that they are an Expert:

After the scam ends, very often victims learn a tiny bit about scams and suddenly believe they are an expert in these crimes. Of course, this is self-deception, except when they use their small amount of knowledge to influence other victims into making bad choices and guiding them in the wrong direction. Spreading urban legends and false information is every bit as much of a deception as anything else. While the victim may not know they are doing it, their hubris and pride in how much they have learned are another coping mechanism that is destructive not only to them but to others. Victims need to admit to themselves that they are not criminologists or victimologists; that they are only really fluent in being a victim and even then not very much in that too, since so many victims will be scammed more than once. It is important to admit what they are and are not, what they know and do not know, and avoid trying to be an expert in any part of this, especially with other victims until they are properly trained.

However, this does not mean that victims should not share what they know to warn others, just recognize they have some information, but by no means are an authority on it. They should use resources like as a major educational resource.

Understanding the Victim’s Perspective:

Scammers employ sophisticated psychological tactics, preying on victims’ emotions and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Victims are exploited to manipulate making into making irrational decisions, betraying their own moral compass, including lying and engaging in fraudulent activities. We know that coming to terms with this is extraordinarily difficult – we have helped millions of victims understand these issues. Unfortunately, even helping victims to understand that harm was done to others does not mean they will address or acknowledge it, and this is one of the reasons why more victims are being prosecuted than ever before.

The answer is to get both professional counseling and to join a professionally managed support group. To find counseling professionals visit and to learn more about support groups visit

Recovery and Prevention:

To mitigate the harm caused by scams and fraud, it is essential to focus on comprehensive recovery measures and prevention strategies. Empowering victims through education, support, and non-judgmental assistance is vital – which is what SCARS does. This includes providing referral resources for counseling, financial rehabilitation, legal aid, and support.

The first step in recovery is to accept that the crime happened and that the victim was deceived. But that they have a responsibility to themself and others to recover from this. Otherwise, they are likely to be scammed again. Just saying it will never happen again means nothing – victims are more vulnerable after a scam than before.


Scam victims, while undoubtedly targeted and manipulated by fraudsters, can inadvertently contribute to the harm inflicted upon themselves and others by their actions, decisions, and omissions. Lying to family and friends, deceiving financial institutions, not reporting the crime, and unknowingly supporting criminal activities are some of the unintended consequences that arise. By acknowledging these, victims can work on relieving their guilt, shame, and self-blame. All of which is a necessary part of the scam victim’s recovery process.

-/ 30 /-

What do you think about this?
Please share your thoughts in a comment below!

SCARS FREE Support & Recovery Program - 4 EVER FREE

Do You Need Support?
Get It Now!

SCARS provides the leading Support & Recovery program for relationship scam victims – completely FREE!

Our managed peer support groups allow victims to talk to other survivors and recover in the most experienced environment possible, for as long as they need. Recovery takes as long as it takes – we put no limits on our support!

SCARS is the most trusted support & education provider in the world. Our team is certified in trauma-informed care, grief counseling, and so much more!

To apply to join our groups visit

We also offer separate support groups for family & friends too.

SCARS STAR Membership

Become a

SCARS offers memberships in our STAR program, which includes many benefits for a very low annual membership fee!

SCARS STAR Membership benefits include:

  • FREE Counseling or Therapy Benefit from our partner
  • Exclusive members-only content & publications
  • Discounts on SCARS Self-Help Books Save
  • And more!

To learn more about the SCARS STAR Membership visit

To become a SCARS STAR Member right now visit


SCARS Publishing Self-Help Recovery Books Available At

Scam Victim Self-Help Do-It-Yourself Recovery Books

SCARS Printed Books For Every Scam Survivor From SCARS Publishing


Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32-plus years of experience.

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

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

Go to to learn how

U.S. FTC at and SCARS at
Visit to learn more!



Legal Disclaimer:

The content provided on this platform regarding psychological topics is intended solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The publisher makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information presented. The content is designed to raise awareness about various psychological subjects, and readers are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research and verify information independently.

The information presented does not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any psychological disorder or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers are advised to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional for any questions or concerns related to their mental health.

The publisher disclaims any responsibility for actions taken or not taken based on the content provided. The treatment of psychological issues is a serious matter, and readers should consult with qualified professionals to address their specific circumstances. The content on this platform is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship.

Interpretation and Definitions


For the purposes of this Disclaimer:

  • Company (referred to as either “the Company”, “We”, “Us” or “Our” in this Disclaimer) refers to Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (registered d.b.a. “SCARS”,) 9561 Fountainbleau Blvd., Suit 602, Miami FL 33172.
  • Service refers to the Website.
  • You means the individual accessing this website, or the company, or other legal entity on behalf of which such individual is accessing or using the Service, as applicable.
  • Website refers to, accessible from

Website Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is for general information purposes only.

The Company assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents of the Service.

In no event shall the Company be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. The Company reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

The Company does not warrant this website in any way.

External Links Disclaimer

This website may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with the Company.

Please note that the Company does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information on these external websites.

Errors and Omissions Disclaimer

The information given by SCARS is for general guidance on matters of interest only. Even if the Company takes every precaution to ensure that the content of this website is both current and accurate, errors can occur. Plus, given the changing nature of laws, rules, and regulations, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information contained on this website.

SCARS is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Fair Use Disclaimer

SCARS may use copyrighted material that has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Company is making such material available for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

The Company believes this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States Copyright law.

If You wish to use copyrighted material from this website for your own purposes that go beyond fair use, You must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Views Expressed Disclaimer

The Service may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other author, agency, organization, employer, or company, including SCARS.

Comments published by users are their sole responsibility and the users will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The Company is not liable for any comment published by users and reserves the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever.

No Responsibility Disclaimer

The information on the Service is provided with the understanding that the Company is not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, medical or mental health, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal, medical or mental health, or other competent advisers.

In no event shall the Company, its team, board of directors, volunteers, or its suppliers be liable for any special, incidental, indirect, or consequential damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with your access or use or inability to access or use the Service.

“Use at Your Own Risk” Disclaimer

All information on this website is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

SCARS will not be liable to You or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information given by the Service or for any consequential, special, or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Disclaimer, You can contact Us:

  • By email:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.






This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use. 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at

View the claimed and or registered indicia, service marks, and trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at

Share This Information - Choose Your Social Media!

Leave A Comment