(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

The Dark Side of the Victim Psychology – SchadenfreudeSchadenfreude Pleasure is derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, self-esteem or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.

The Psychology of ScamsPsychology Of Scams Psychology Of Scams is the study of the psychological or emotional effects of scams or financial fraud on victims of these crimes. It helps victims to better understand the impact of scams on them personally or on others. To find the SCARS articles on the Psychology of Scams, use the search option to enter the term and find them.

A 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. Insight

The Dark Side Of Victim Psychology

For Many Years We Have Attempted To Understand The Obsessions Many 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. Victims Experience With 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. Photos!

PLEASE NOTE: This is not presented to make victims feel bad. This is shared to help victims take a look at their own emotions in the hope that it can bring insights. Recovering after a relationship scamRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? can have lasting effects and few of them are good. The traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. can manifest in so many ways, but being informed means that you can watch for these responses in yourself and take appropriate corrective measures.

Most victims, especially those that are still carrying substantial 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. argue that they want to see scammer photos to avoid future 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..

But there is something deeper in this replacement addiction – replacing the addiction of the scam for a new addiction (or obsession) with scammer photos. It is almost like viewing the photos of scammers satisfies a need in this group of victims, like “rubbernecking” when passing a fatal car accident on the road.

“There’s something else that’s a little bit darker, that a lot of people don’t want to accept, but there’s this sense of relief that it wasn’t you.”

We see the same thing in the fascination with crime stories on the news. Partly it is cautionary alerting you to increased risk, but there is something else there! When you see it on screen, or by the side of the road, you say, “it wasn’t me, thank God.” And so there’s that same sense of relief that whatever happened – it happened to someone else instead of you.

A significant number of people have this impulse when first hearing of a tragedy.

So what is this thing and how does it apply to our situation?

This Is Called: “Schadenfreude”

scha·den·freu·de[SHädənˌfroidə]

PLEASURE DERIVED BY SOMEONE FROM ANOTHER PERSON’S MISFORTUNE.

That sounds harsh, but let us explain what we mean before you make a snap judgment about this topic!

What Is Schadenfreude?

Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, self-esteem or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.

Schadenfreude is a complex emotion

Rather than feeling sympathy towards someone’s misfortune, schadenfreude evokes joyful feelings that take pleasure from watching someone fail. This emotion is displayed more in children than adults, however, adults also experience schadenfreude, they are just better at concealing their expressions from others and even from themselves. It can be very pronounced or very subtle, and many times you are not even aware you are doing it. But it is there!

We know how to enjoy failures in others. But ask us to name this enjoyment, and our language falls into a hypocritical silence. It averts its gaze and squirms. And so we turn to the Germans, so well known for their precision to have just the right word.

From “schaden” meaning damage or harm and “freude” meaning joy or pleasure – results in “damage-joy.”

In English it might be called: “vicarious joy from misery.”

No one likes to think about their flaws, but it is in them that so much of what makes us human is revealed. Enjoying other people’s misfortunes might sound simple – a mere glint of malice, a flick of spite. But look closer and you’ll glimpse some of the most hidden yet important parts of our lives.

Basically, it is a psychological process of making yourself feel better by putting other people down or more precisely seeing others feel pain or discomfort.

It is not always out in the open, and many times the other person is not aware they are doing it. It is kind of the opposite of empathy.

How Does This Relate To Scams And Scam Victims?

How does something that sounds so evil relate to scam victims?

Let us first revert back to the types of scam victims – a taxonomy!

Remember that there are basically three main categorizations of romance scam victims (in our experience):

  • Deniers / Denialists
  • Angry / Vigilante Haters
  • Realists
Scam Victim Mindsets

Scam Victim Mindsets

It is important to remember that recovering from a scam is a process, and during that process, victims move through these stages or mindsets.

Those that successfully recover have moved through denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality., and through anger, into becoming realists. This is what allows them to acknowledge and accept their scam and move forward. Unfortunately, about 2/3 of scam victims do not migrate through to realism and stay trapped in DenialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. or Anger (at least for an extended period of time.)

During that phase of anger, we see the darker side of human nature more often emerge in victims. We see anger directed against other victims, against those offering help and support, against law enforcement – general rageRage 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. against everyone. It is also where we see the “Saviors” emerge who think only they can save other victims!

However, it appears that in this anger is also born the Schadenfreude.

Misfortune of Others

  • The Japanese have a saying: “The misfortune of others tastes like honey”
  • The French speak of “joie maligne,” a diabolical delight in other people’s suffering
  • In Danish it is “skadefryd”
  • In Hebrew, “simcha la-ed”
  • In Mandarin, “xìng-zāi-lè-huò”
  • In Russian, “zloradstvo”
  • For the Melanesians who live on the remote Nissan Atoll in Papua New Guinea, it is “banbanam.”
  • Two millennia ago, the Romans spoke of “malevolentia”
  • Earlier still, the Greeks described “epichairekakia” (literally epi, over, chairo, rejoice, kakia, disgrace).

A study in Würzburg Germany carried out in 2015 found that football fans smiled more quickly and broadly when their rival team missed a penalty than when their own team scored.

“To see others suffer does one good,” wrote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “This is a hard saying, but a mighty, human, all-too-human principle.”

There has never really been a good word for these grubby delights in English. In the 1500s, someone attempted to introduce “Epicaricacy” from the ancient Greek, but it didn’t catch on.

There could only be one solution as a journalist in the magazine “Spectator” asserted in 1926: “There is no English word for schadenfreude because there is no such feeling here.” He was wrong, of course.

Scams & Scam Victims

When we look at how scam victims express themselves we see these tendencies emerge in many different ways.

Minimizing A Victim

Many victims have felt others try to minimize their experience.

From police officers to family and friends, people seem to take some delight in putting the romance scam trauma down as “not that bad” or “Not as bad as what they had experienced.”

We see the same expressions throughout society when a victim tries to relate their experience to others. The listeners tend to try to quantify it or compare it rather than just express sympathy for the pain and suffering that the victim experienced.

Sadly, this is wired into our cultures worldwide. In one form or another, now that we know of this we can see it almost everywhere – people minimizing the pain of others to feel better about themselves. While there is some disagreement, we view this as variations on Schadenfreude.

Victim BlamingVictim Blaming Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. SCARS seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders or scammers. There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as the greater tendency to blame victims of rape than victims of robbery. Scam victims are often blamed by family & friends for the crime. Scam victims also engage in self-blame even though they are not to blame.

We recently saw victims trying to put down other romance scams victims as not being “real” victims because they had not lost any money. Thus their experience was not as “real” or as “bad” as the ones that had lost money. In fact, they claimed, it wasn’t even a scam unless you lost money. Completely false.

We know the definition of a “scam” is not about money or property, it is about deception. A victim can be profoundly deceived and money never enters into the deception.

Advertisers deceive, politicians deceive, our children deceive, and it all hurts. The magnitude of the pain is a function of how completely we internalize the deception, not the money we lose (though that certainly hurts too.)

But more than that, the people who blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. the victim are also expressing their own feeling that “thank god it was not me” in the process of blamingBlaming Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action..

We also see this in comparisons between magnitudes of financial loses. Victims who have lost little have a much harder time understanding those that lost very large amounts – yet the mechanisms of manipulations and the trauma are exactly the same regardless of the size of the loss.

Love Of Gore

Why do people like to look at gory movies?

Because it is not them! Though if they had to look at a real dead body other emotional responses would come to the forefront. But viewing it vicariously, we see the same sort of vicarious joy at the misfortunes of others take place.

Rooted in this is also one of the reasons behind the obsession with scammer photos that blanket the web and social media.

Scammer Photo Obsession

Many (especially angry victims) will argue that looking at scammers’ photos helps them (and others) avoid scams in the future. Unfortunately, this is mostly not true.

With billions of fake identities in use and stolen photos from hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions? or tens of millions?) of impersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. victims, there are vastly more stolen photos from more different people than could ever be cataloged. The mere act of trying to catalog them all is completely futile. Yet victims make this their obsessions to do it believing that this somehow benefits other victims and will magically stop scamming. Again it is not true.

  • It is true that some of this does help a small number of victims who sat on the edge and just needed a small push to recognize they were being scammed.
  • It is true that posting photos makes it possible to confirm a small number of scams (about 2-3%).
  • Some of it does help some victims better understand how scams function.
  • But the vast majority of it is obsessive both by the people doing it and by those viewing them.
  • Worse still, statistically, as many as half of those viewing them will be scammed more than once – some over and over. The haters, of course, deny all fo this and stick to their urban legends and amateurish belief systems – stomping through people’s lives doing more damage in the process!

Saviors Posting Photos

For those trapped in the obsession of posting endless streams of stolen photos, this becomes the expression of their anger towards scammers. It can also is the expression of their “Savior SyndromeSyndrome It is a group of symptoms that can consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.” where they believe “only they” (by posting these photos) they can save other victims.

However, this is more of an exercise in continuing to feed their anger towards their scammer and their scam experience, while trying to justify their feelings of anger and rage.

Vicarious Joy In Looking At Scammer Photos

We see that for most victims that are obsessively or addictively trapped in looking at scammer or stolen photos it is more than just a desire for awareness.

NOTE: Let us clearly say that there are many who are engaged in real actions against scammers and they are not fueled by this. Such as cooperating to have fake or scammer profiles removed. We view their motivations as being quite different – they are taking positive actions to make the world a better place!

But for most, who simply gravitate to places where endless streams of scammer photos are posted it seems to be about the satisfaction or relief they feel when viewing them (Schadenfreude). Meaning that in viewing the multiplicity of endless scammer photos these victims feel relief that it was not them that was scammed by this photo or that. It is the same kind of feelings that people experience when looking at photos of criminals going to jail in the news – we say it is a “satisfaction and a sense of justice,” but it is more than that.

It is these same kinds of feelings when the media white-washes someone as criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. or corrupt, regardless of guilt or innocence. The corporate news media knows that branding someone sells newspapers and attracts viewers.

Getting back to stolen photos – we have found that many victims do not even care if the photo was stolen or not. Many victims are “happy” even if the “blame” is applied to the real person in the stolen photo almost as much as to the scammer behind it.

Scammer Photo Trauma

In our experience, the continued viewing of scammer photos (real or stolen) comes at a significant cost to the victim.

This manifests itself in a couple of profound ways:

  1. Those that obsess about these photos and continue to frequent places that display them (almost to the exclusion of anything else) are increasing the trauma victims experience. In numerous studies of crime victims viewing mugshots, we see that these victims experienced heightened levels of fear and anxiety after viewing the photos. That constant exposure to these photos may reinforce or increase the trauma or even PTSD that victims feel.
  2. Like professionals that are repeatedly exposed to inhumanity, such as police and first responders, vicarious trauma builds up over time. Vicarious trauma is the experience of the trauma of others and internalizing it. It can result in a burn-out of empathy for those that experience it and affect their lives in numerous other ways.

Those that argue that continuous viewing of scammer photos is somehow important to have no real understanding of the damage they are causing. This is one of the most widespread of destructive urban legends disseminated by amateur anti-scam groups.

The Increasing Belief In Futility

Another of the side effects of constantly viewing scammer photos is the deep sense that no one is doing anything, that nothing is being done to stop this.

It develops a deep sense of futility, which then holds that victim back from taking positive action themselves. It can prevent a victim from seeking proper support to recover or increase despair.

We see this in the small number of reports that are made to law enforcement – currently well below 10% – meaning over 90% of all scams go unreported – because victims feel it is futile, it will make no difference. These photo exposure amateur anti-scam groups hold victims in their environment and feed them a constant stream of never-ending futility.

Yet, the truth is the exact opposite. In 2018 over 21,000 scammers were arrested because of reports – directly or indirectly. Reporting matters – always! And equally important is that much is being done!

In Summary

What does this help us learn from Schadenfreude and how it relates to the experience of scam victims?

We view this as a lesson in how victims can help themselves by recognizing their own characteristics and behaviors. We all have things about ourselves that we are not aware of, but now that you are aware of this emotional characteristic you can look for it and alter how you respond in different situations.

It may not always be possible to help yourself “work through” them, and for this reason, we strongly recommend that a local counselor or therapist can be essential in helping every victim work through these issues. CLICK HERE » to find help!

Amateur anti-scam groups may be entertaining for a while, but they can also be dangerous because they are playing with your 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".. That is why professional help matters!

Our strongest recommendation is that as quickly as possible turn away from the scammers and focus on yourself.

Stop looking at scammers – recognize and turn off your obsession – and turn towards others who have shared your experience in a proper support groupSupport Group 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. setting. Try to minimize your exposure to the criminals, and stay focused on learning why this happened to you so you can avoid it in the future.

Get the help you need! Find a local counselor, find a real support group, start recovering!

We hope you will!

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Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide

LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN

This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified 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., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

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A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

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This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

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Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!

Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

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SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
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Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com