The Biggest Mistake Scam Victims Make Is Believing They Are Done With Scams 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.!
Scams are Always There Waiting for that Next Mistake!
One of the strangest, yet somewhat understandable mistakes that many scam victims make is believing they will never be scammed again! In fact, they go so far as to deliberately avoid learning more about scams. Victims reach a point where they simply do not want to know anything about scams!
Yet, scams never go away. Scams surround us every minute of every day. They surround us in the real world. They surround us online.
Every product you buy online is an opportunity for a scammer to take your money. The house you purchased or the apartment you just rented. The vacation you booked. The medicine or vitamins you purchased. The restaurant you reserved. All of these are opportunities for scammers to take your money and leave you an emotional wreck.
Instead of victims accepting this reality, after a certain point, many prefer to ignore the problem and return to a fantasy existence pretending they are forever safe – very much like their attitude before the big one caught them. Have they learned nothing from the scam experience? In at least a third of all scam victims, the answer is very little.
Real Research of Crime Victims shows that:
- Crime victimization Victimization (or victimization) is the process of being victimized or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimization is called victimology. and recovery is a process, not an event
- Victims suffer from cognitive changes based upon victimization – not for the better without recovery assistance
- The literature specifically examining cognitive changes in victimization is extremely sparse – meaning that much more research is needed, but what is available paints a picture of profound change
- Common reactions to crime victimization include anger 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., fear, and avoidance! Avoidance following the crime is common!
- Other reactions include depression, anxiety, dissociation, information seeking, and empowerment, as well as information avoidance
- It is likely that victimization has a cognitive effect both directly through re-defining oneself as a “victim” and indirectly, through the changes that accompany reactions
- Crime characteristics are important when looking at trauma 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. reactions
- Severity of the crime and injury appears to be more important than the specific nature of the crime (e.g., romance scam, family violence vs. assault vs. sexual assault) with respect to developing psychological trauma symptoms
- Perceived and actual social support is important in moderating trauma reaction
- Social support has a major effect on decision-making and subsequent coping
- Victims prefer natural supports (family, friends) to professional supports
- Victims require a continuum of services – meaning trauma does not go away overnight, instead it can take one to several years for victims to recover
Having said all of the above, a significant number of scam victims demonstrate a preference to avoid thinking about the crime and learning very much about them.
A very common attitude is that this subset of victims believes they are fine, they have learned their lesson, and will never have to worry about scams again! They are cured!
Part of this is denial 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. – denial in that they don’t want to think about it anymore, don’t want to learn about it, don’t want to talk about it. But of course, this just leads to deeper trauma and cognitive biases.
A particularly powerful bias affecting people is the confirmation bias (also called myside-bias), which can be described as a tendency for motivated reasoning (they see what they want to see.) More specifically, it involves seeking supportive arguments for their own opinion and neglecting any criticism or counter-evidence. By applying their intelligence in a one-sided, biased manner to justify their own ideas and theories, this can therefore serve to perpetuate mistakes.
Burying your head in the sand does not make the problem go away. In fact, it almost guarantees that it will come back, perhaps in another form, but come back all the same.
This website is a perfect example of this. Approximately 35% of the scam victims that visit this site come to look at photos and then they leave. They never search for or read any of the additional information. These are the victims at greatest risk of recidivism (being in a scam again.) And they are also the least likely to fully recover emotionally from their scam experience.
We see similar effects in our support programs and support 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., where scam fatigue sets in after a few months and some victims shut down their willingness to recover or learn.
Yet the threat never goes away and mutates constantly into new forms. By avoiding the 800-pound gorilla in the room they condemn themselves to repeat their past mistakes and deny themselves a full recovery.
As a victims’ assistance provider (SCARS,) our role is to provide services to help victims through these experiences. Our professional curated support activities are there to help educate and support victims as they go through recovery. But sadly, little can be done to help those in avoidance after their scam. We do all in our power to lead victims to the knowledge they need but have to step aside if they will not embrace it.
The essential fact is that if a victim denies their need for knowledge and behavioral change to prevent future scams, and avoids the support they need to fully recover – such as support groups and counseling 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. – they doom themselves to years more misery than is necessary!
This is the way to really avoid scams and fully recover!
- Read what is in front of you. Knowledge and behavior
Behavior / Behavioral Actions
Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. changes are your ONLY weapon to avoid scams in your future and to help those you know to avoid them too!
- Avoid fixation on scammer photos that will only increase your anger, hate, and burnout of scams
- Join and steadily participate in real qualified support groups such as those provided by SCARS and our partners around the world – here is one you can join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.Avoidance.Information.Public.Group or contact us for others in your region
- Find a local trauma counselor that can help you specifically to address your own cognitive/emotional issues and recover more completely and faster – here is a directory of trauma counselors and therapists: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd
- Be patient and supportive of yourself and other victims – you need what you need and don’t try to avoid it
- Stick with it – this is not over in a day, a week, or a month – some victims will recover faster than others, and some may need help for extended periods of time, depending on their past traumas
If you can do these things, you can recover and better avoid scams in the future. Just remember, scams and scammers are constantly evolving, if you avoid what you need then you make yourself vulnerable to what will come.
It is up to you to learn and recover, if you give up – even if you believe you do not need anything more – then it will happen again, it is just a question of time.