How To Confront A Scam Victim In Total Denial

For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims


How To Confront A Scam Victim In Total Denial

What To Say To A Romance Scam Addict In Denial

IMPORTANT: If you are a victim and you are reading this – IT DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU! You are already working through your scam, you are seeking knowledge and help to address what happened to you. This document is about scam victims who refuse to accept that they are being scammed.

When you care for someone who is a Romance Scam Victim in total denial there is little difference between them and a drug addict.

It is incredibly difficult in so many ways for you and everyone else that knows and cares for them.

Romance scams take on the characteristics of an obsession, but it is more than that. A romance scam is a real addiction. But it operates on multiple levels, both behavioral and physical.

The victim is systematically manipulated by the scammers to condition them to reduce or eliminate their connections with friends and family, while at the same time the scam itself is flooding their brain with some of the most addicting chemicals (hormones) that can cause real addiction. This is one of the things that make these romance scams so difficult to break.

Treating The Scam Victim As An Addict

People who struggle with scam addiction, just like drug addicts, tend to be unable to care about the people around them as they once did because they’re consumed by a focus on the maintenance of the fake scam relationship – they are getting their fix from the continuation of the scam. Frankly, just like an addict, this is what they care about more than anything.

Scam victims in this level of denial, just like addicts also exhibit many behaviors that can destroy the lives of the people around them. For example, these scam victims will often lie and steal to sustain their fake relationship. They will also try to manipulate situations to facilitate their scam relationships. First exhausting their own resources and then trying to take from others. Sometimes they only destroy their own lives and stop when forced to by spending every last cent they have in the world.

The Impact On Friends And Families Of The Scam Victim

In addition to the negative behaviors of a scam victim in total denial, you may also find that you’re often scared for them or becoming traumatized by their behaviors. This is called “Vicarious Trauma.”

Loved ones or close friends of scam addicts tend always to be worried about something bad happening, or wondering if the next phone call they receive is going to be the news they dread the most. It is not uncommon for victims in total denial to take their own life after they hit rock bottom and run out of money. When the money ends, many times the scammer will reveal themselves as a way to threaten and taunt the victim. But in most cases, the victim just “wakes up” to the reality of what they have done.

This kind of scam denial or addiction is particularly difficult to deal with because there aren’t a lot of things you can do to help them.

Fixing The Romance Scam Addict

There’s no way to fix them!

There’s no way to change a romance scam victim in total denial unless they have the desire to seek treatment and make a change and stop.

This is one of the biggest mistakes loved ones and friends of these victims often make. They will tend to think they can somehow make the problem go away and they become frustrated, discouraged, and even suffer from depression themselves when it doesn’t work.

So How Do You Confront A Scam Victim In Total Denial?

If you’re at the point in your life where you can’t stand by any longer and watch a friend or family member destroy themselves, you may be wondering how to confront them?

It’s a difficult situation when you’re confronting a scam addict because they may be in total denial or they may become defensive and unwilling to have the conversation that needs to be had.

When you’re confronting someone about their relationship scam, they may see what you’re saying as a criticism or an unnecessary concern, and they may lash out at you. Many victims will go so far as to completely end friendships or family relationships to retain the delusion of the scam – their addiction.

Learning How To Confront A Family Member Or Friend


The following are some specific things to keep in mind when you’re confronting someone about their romance scam and scam addiction:

  • Never tell them that you think they are suffering from mental illness or an addiction!
    • Stay focused on the facts about scams and their situation
    • Share information about scams, and how fake identities are used to scam victims just like them
    • Help them to understand they are not alone, that there are millions of scam victims just like them
  • Try to keep your calm, no matter what!
    • You don’t want the conversation to begin angrily or seem like venting
    • You want to simply be factual when you’re learning how to confront them
    • You want to remain calm and steady, and don’t let yourself be drawn into an argument
    • Simply know that you know the truth [learn more here]
  • It’s also important when you’re learning how to confront a scam victim in total denial that you don’t seem like you’re judging them!
    • When you react this way, it leads to defensiveness from the scam victim
    • While the person you care for may have made an initial choice to connect with a stranger or to take an offer that turned into a relationship scam, they are not to blame – they were expertly manipulated into this
    • They are now experiencing the symptoms of mental illness and addiction, and you should always try to keep that in mind
  • As you’re exploring how to confront a family member or friend in the depths of a romance scam, think about trying to focus on how their scam and addiction make you feel!
    • You should be honest about your feelings and be specific with them
    • What often happens is that scam victims at this level of denial are so focused on their scam – their fake relationship that they honestly don’t see how their actions are affecting the people around them
    • They may be in denial but showing concrete examples of how their specific actions have impacted your feelings, it can help you chip away at some of that denial
  • It’s important that when confronting someone about their scam away from the environment where the scam is happening, such as away from their home!
    • This is often the first thing in the morning, right after they wake up.
    • If you try and confront a scam addict when they’ve been talking with their scammer for an extended session, they’re not going to be rational, nor are they likely to be able to control their emotions
  • Remind them of your relationship
    • Talk to them about good times you had with them – places you went, things you did – this helps them reconnect with you
    • Remind them of little secrets you share and how you have been their confidant and trustworthy advisor – help them remember how they always trusted you

Other tips for how to confront a drug addict include:

  • Try to listen to the scam victim as well as talking about your feelings
    • Sometimes when people are confronting a scam victim at this level of delusion, they think they have to do all of the talking, but it can be helpful also to listen – get them talking about it
    • Letting them talk it out may help them hear what they are saying and how impossible it all sounds – this can be helpful in creating the doubt they need to break free
    • This will allow them to feel like they can trust and confide in you
  • Try to be consistent when you’re confronting a scam victim
    • You will probably find yourself confronting them over and over again until they finally accept the reality
    • When doing so, you want your message and delivery always to be the same

Set Boundaries And Define Consequences!

The key phrase to keep in mind when confronting a scam addict is often tough love.

This means that when you’re confronting someone about their relationship scam or learning how to confront someone about it, you keep in mind unconditional love, with strict boundaries at the same time.

For a lot of people, the best way to learn how to confront a romance scam victim in total denial is to stage an intervention with the help of a professional therapist or interventionist. As a last resort, you can invite the police in.

An intervention allows a group of loved ones to come together and plan what they’ll say when confronting a then victim. This can help alleviate some of the tendency to lose your temper or become overly emotional. The ultimate objective of an intervention is to motivate the scam addict to seek treatment for their romance or relationship scam.


Actions Have Consequences

In the end, you may fail in trying to help the scam victim.

We are not talking about something casual at this level, we are talking about mental illness. It may well be beyond your ability to help them. This is where you will have to be prepared for the hard choice. You may have to walk away or distance yourself for your own mental well-being.

You can only pound your head against this wall for so long!

We suggest that when you have exhausted the normal approaches to this problem that you – yourself go and speak with a therapist or counselor and work with them to address the impact on yourself, but also to use this person as an ally in continuing to develop strategies for confronting the victim. This will also help you plan for the eventual and inevitable collapse when the victim runs out of money and resources.

Just Know That You Are Not Alone In This

Thousands of families and friends go through this every day!

Romance scams are worldwide and their victims number in the millions. Sadly, only about a third of victims get the help they need to recover, the rest are lost to their rage and anger, or slip into despair and further denial.

Being there when the crash happens allows you to guide them through the inevitable destruction of their life that follows this scenario.

We provide real professional scam victim support groups but your friend or family member may need real therapy or counseling locally first. Don’t be afraid to guide them in that direction. Don’t be afraid to seek it for yourself either! There is no shame in asking for help – that is why you are here! That is why we are here!


In the world of scams, there are thousands of pretender/amateur/instant experts. A huge number of victims believe in post-scam delusions – such as: “just because they were scammed, they are not an instant expert in the subject.” Many instantly believe they are the only ones that can save other victims – these are dangerous!


Look for groups that are professional and registered crime victims assistance organizations before you listen to anyone about scams, or are SCARS Members. (Yes we are an incorporated nonprofit and a registered crime victims assistance organization with 30 years of experience.)


Of course, this website is full of additional information about relationship scams and scammers. Use it – learn from us about this plague of modern society!

Additional places:

  1. SCARS Scam Avoidance Education Group on Facebook »
  2. A Support Group just for Family & Friends of Scam Victims »
  3. One of the SCARS Scam Victim Support Groups for Women »
  4. How To Find A Therapist – WebMD »
  5. How To Find The Best Therapist For You – PsychologyToday »
  6. Better Help – Therapist Directory »
  7. Find A Therapist – GoodTherapy Directory »

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!

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.

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