Risk of Suicides in Scam and Financial Fraud Victims Is Sharply On The Rise
Scams and financial fraud can have a devastating impact on victims, both financially and emotionally. In some cases, the emotional toll can be so great that victims may feel like they have no other way out but to commit suicide and take their own life.
The risk of suicide is especially high among elderly victims. A study by the National Center for Victims of Crime found that the rate of suicides among elderly scam victims is twice as high as the national average. Add on the loss of their life savings and the impact is obvious!
There are a number of reasons why scam and financial fraud victims may be at risk of suicides. These include:
- Financial loss: Scams and financial fraud can lead to significant financial losses, which can have a devastating impact on victims’ lives. They may lose their homes, their retirement savings, or their ability to provide for themselves or their families.
- Sense of Shame and Guilt: Many scam victims feel ashamed and guilty about being scammed. They may blame themselves for being gullible or naive. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
- Isolation: Scam and financial fraud can be isolating experiences. Victims may feel like they are the only ones who have been scammed, and they may be reluctant to talk about it with others. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and despair.
- Fear: Many scam victims take out loans from less than credible sources, and when they are unable to pay these back they face real risks – this is especially true in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America
Estimations of Suicides
- SCARS alone is contacted by 3-5 individuals a day stating they are going to commit suicide a day – an increase of 300% in the last 2 years.
- In the UK Action Fraud police agency admits that they are contacted by over 300 suicidal victims a year.
- A study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that 26% of scam victims reported feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed as a result of the fraud. And 12% said they had considered suicide.
- Hong Kong charity says 20 percent of scam victims have suicidal thoughts
SCARS Analytics now indicates that suicides resulting from scams/financial fraud have reached a new high – above 30 people dying a day in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand!
In actuality, we believe the number worldwide is probably closer to 150 or above a day now. The global number is above 50,000 suicide deaths per year.
But we admit this is extraordinarily hard to quantify and track suicide deaths. Suicides are almost never attributed to a reason in police or medical examiner reporting. So correlating suicides to a crime is almost impossible.
According to Cornell Law Shcool:
The felony murder rule is a law in most states and under federal law [in the United States] that allows anyone who is accused of committing a felony to be charged with murder if the commission of that felony results in the death of someone. The people involved in the felony may be charged for murder under the rule even if they had no intention of killing someone.
SCARS encourages law enforcement and prosecutors to take the time to dig deeper since a suicide caused by financial fraud could be felony murder – death during the commission of a felony.
We encourage prosecutors to start exploring this seriously when they prosecute criminals that commit these crimes. There is blood on their hands!
We encourage the Department of Justice to go back and explore the financial fraud cases they have prosecuted in the last few years to see if there were cases that qualify.
The truth is no one knows the total numbers, but based on the data available it is huge. The United States Centers for Disease Control estimate that 0.5% of those thinking about suicide actually take their lives.
If 1 in 4 victims are thinking about suicide, and if that is the case, and we have 2-3 million new victims a year, then that suggests that there are 250,000 scam/fraud victim suicides a year! A staggering number!
If an identified victim took their life, then the criminals the perpetrated the crime that led to that should be prosecuted for that death! If we started charging scammers with murder it would change the risk factor for them enormously!
We all have a responsibility to stop arguing over who is responsible and to take action now!
If You Need To Talk To Someone Right Now
If you feel that you must talk to someone right now call this number (in the U.S. & Canada): 988 / 1-800-273-8255 – it is available 24 hours in English and Spanish. To find other crisis hotlines for your country search on Google for “Crisis Hotline.” Remember, there is no shame in asking for help. The Lifeline and 988 : Lifeline (988lifeline.org)
Worldwide: Here Are The Numbers You Can Call:
- FTC: The FTC data was from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): “2021 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book”
The study was released in February 2022 and analyzed data from over 2.8 million fraud reports filed with the FTC in 2021. The study found that 26% of scam victims reported feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed as a result of the fraud. And 12% said they had considered suicide.
The study also found that the risk of suicide was higher among elderly victims. Elderly victims were twice as likely as younger victims to report feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed, and three times as likely to say they had considered suicide.
The study’s findings underscore the importance of providing support to scam and financial fraud victims. Victims should be encouraged to seek help from mental health professionals if they are feeling suicidal. The police and prosecutors should also be doing more to hold the criminals behind these crimes accountable.
- SCARS Data: Internal SCARS Analytics – unpublished analysis
- US CDC: Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years — United States, 2015–2019 | MMWR (cdc.gov)
- PMC: Suicide in the elderly: a 37-years retrospective study – PMC (nih.gov)