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SCARS™ Scam Insight: What Is The Difference Between A Scam Victim And A Scam Survivor?

An Exploration Of Mindsets

As an organization, we have had the opportunity to observe the victims of scams from over 27 years. We have had the benefit of expanding our knowledge by professionalizing our activities as registered crime victims’ assistance and support providers, in applying victimology and criminalistics, as anthropologists, as specialists in addictive behavior, in the psychology of scams, victim recovery, and related fields that we have brought into our organization to help us better serve the troubled souls that have been victimized by scammers.

Often online crime victims recoil from the term “victim” and want to view themselves as “survivors”. But these are not interchangeable terms.

Different Individuals And Groups Tend To Use The Words “Victims” Or “Survivors”

“Victims” is often used in legal settings, while “survivors” is often used in advocacy groups. Sometimes “victim” is used to describe a person who has recently experienced violence or is currently experiencing abuse of some kind. “Survivor” tends to be used to describe a person who has begun to heal from the experience.

We Have A Different Perspective On This!

A Scam Victim (in our view) is someone who has been subjected to a scam or online fraud. They have been traumatized by believing the perpetrator (or scammer). Some lose money also.

A Scam Victim is like an Addict. When someone is an Addict they are always an addict for life because they remain susceptible to relapse. An addict can always relapse because of the complex psychological dependency that has become wired into their personality and body. A Victim similarly is a Victim for life, but unlike an addict, a Victim can learn not to be a Victim any more.

A Scam Victim is someone who has not learned the fundamental lessons that allow them to be a Survivor. A Survivor has learned those lessons.

What Lessons? What Do We Mean?

Everyone who becomes the victim of a scam, especially a romance scam or other types of African-style Internet confidence tricks fundamentally lived in denial. They all universally believed that it would never happen to them. Yet it did, that is the definition of denial. If you were asked before you became a victim you probably would have remarked about how stupid these people were? How silly and lonely and pathetic these scam victims were? Because you would never let anything like that happen to you, right?

But you did let it happen to you. Most of you ran full speed into that abyss and many with family and friends trying to hold you back. Did you listen to anyone? Not until it was too late. You believed you were safe. You were in denial.

You Were Scammed!

It happened and it was painful. It was agony! For some, it was the worst thing to happen in their lives and it keeps on because of the financial damage that you have to live through after the scam. The pain goes on and on, but eventually, the psychic damage begins to subside. It never goes away completely but you learn to live with it and eventually you can get through a whole day without thinking about it.

You Swear To Yourself That It Will Never Happen Again. You Will Never Be Scammed Again, Ever!

Sadly, This Is Just You Living In Denial Again. This Is Just You Remaining A Victim. You Are Not Really A Survivor, Not Yet.

The truth is that anyone can be scammed and amazingly the statistics show that most victims will be scammed multiple times – over and over. They continue to claim they will never be scammed and proudly proclaim themselves as being cured or incapable of being scammed again, yet they are.

How is that possible? It is possible for the simple reason that they have not learned the fundamental lessons that every addict learns – that it can and will happen again unless you change your mentality and behavior. Sadly, most addicts do not change or stay the course of their sobriety – they relapse again and again. According to Alcoholics Anonymous only about 12% of alcoholics fully recover, the rest relapse over and over.

The same is true of scam victims – only about 30% recover. If you want to learn more about our research in victim mindsets click here »

About A Third Of Scam Victims Come Out Of The Scam Traumatized And In Denial

Almost all scam victims are traumatized by the experience, but about a third cannot really accept what happened to them. They avoid