Almost Every Victim Continues To Receive Emails, Texts, Messages, Or Phone Calls From Their Scammers Even After The Scam Has Been Discovered And Ended!
Why do scammers do this? Don’t they know they are not getting any more money?
In today’s world, it takes no effort at all for scammers to send out mass emails, texts, messages, and even phone calls. There are thousands of online services that will do it at very low cost or for free! These bulk email services can blast out millions of emails a day!
Scammers operate very much like telemarketers after the scam ends. They know that all it takes is a small percentage of victims to have doubts about themselves and the certainty that it was a scam or be curious or impulsive. They know that the victim’s own curiosity and impulsivity work in the scammer’s favor. Plus a significant number of victims in the weeks following the ending of the crime will still have lingering doubts about whether it was in fact a scam.
Scam victims often experience lingering doubts and hesitations about ending a romance scam due to various psychological factors and cognitive biases.
Some of the key reasons include:
- Emotional Manipulation: Scammers are skilled at emotional manipulation and gaslighting. They exploit their victims’ emotions and create intense emotional connections, making the victims doubt their own judgment. The scammers may use tactics such as love bombing (Amygdala hijacks) where they shower the victims with affection and attention, leading the victims to believe the scammer’s feelings are genuine.
- Cognitive Dissonance: Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is a conflict between a person’s beliefs and their actions. In the context of a romance scam (or any long-con type of fraud), the victim may have believed the scammer’s false identity and intentions, and when they discover the truth, it creates a psychological discomfort. To alleviate this discomfort, victims may rationalize or justify the scammer’s behavior, making them question if ending the scam is the right decision. They automatically ask: ‘could I be wrong?’
- Sunk Cost Fallacy: This is a well-known cognitive bias. The concept of the sunk cost fallacy refers to the tendency for people to continue investing time, money, or emotions into something (or someone) even if it’s evident that the investment is unlikely to yield positive returns. In a romance (trust relationship) scam, victims may feel they have already invested so much emotionally and may struggle to accept that it was all based on deception. They may hesitate to end the scam because they don’t want to feel like they wasted their emotions or effort.
- Fear of Being Alone: Scammers often target vulnerable individuals who may be seeking companionship or love. Victims might fear being alone again if they end the scam, and this fear can make them second-guess their decision to break off the relationship.
- Isolation and Dependence: Scammers usually isolate their victims from friends and family, creating a sense of dependency on the scammer for emotional support and connection. This is called ‘Gaslighting.’ This dependence can lead victims to doubt their ability to cope without the scammer and question if ending the relationship is the right choice.
- Trust Issues: After experiencing a romance scam (or any trust relationship scam,) victims may develop trust issues and find it difficult to believe in genuine relationships. This skepticism can make them doubt their ability to decide between a genuine connection and another potential scam.
Many of these psychological factors can indeed be considered cognitive biases as they influence a person’s perception, thinking, and decision-making. Cognitive biases are inherent flaws in human reasoning and can lead individuals to make irrational judgments or hold onto beliefs that may not align with reality.
Overcoming these lingering doubts after a romance scam requires support from friends, family, or professionals who can provide empathy, understanding, counseling, support, and guidance. Recognizing and addressing these doubts is crucial for scam victims to heal and move forward in their lives with renewed awareness and resilience.
Follow On Scams
Another reason for scammers not giving up is that they believe they can use other types of scams that recent victims are desperate for, such as money recovery, investigation, and even law enforcement support. But the scammers exploit these with fake services and support.
Often these follow-on scams are targeted at the victim’s desperation to get their money back after they realize what happened. Victims are naturally vulnerable to money recovery scams or related investigation scams.
Money Recovery Scams
Desperate people make desperate and very impulsive decisions. This includes grasping at anyone that promises that they can recover their money.
After a scam, it is common for victims to get emails, messages, and texts from services claiming they can get their money back! Victims also will go online looking for such services – most of which are unlicensed or fake. Victims will even be targeted in the comments they leave on anti-scam groups (real or scammer-run.)
Scammers know this and make sure that victims have ample choices to select money recovery companies or services – for a small fee – to get their money back! These money recovery services offer certainty during a period of time when victims have none. However, 99% are going to be just more scammers looking for the last bit of money they can get from victims!
Read more about Follow-On Scams here: Recovery Scams/Frauds – Don’t be Re-Victimized (romancescamsnow.com)
A variation on the Money Recovery scams is when scammers pretend to be investigators – private or police.
Victims will be contacted by scammers claiming they can investigate the crime and locate the scammer. Even if that were true, they have no authority to do anything about it other than to take it to the local law enforcement wherever the scammers are. The victims themselves could do that too, any victim can report a crime to the law enforcement where the scammer is after they report the crime locally. These investigators always want money up front – a couple thousand dollars, euros, or pounds will do just fine!
Sometimes the scammers will pretend to be a local police officer who knows or has identified the scammer and they just need a small fee to go and catch them, promising to return the victim’s money in the process. However, these are just more attempts to defraud desperate victims.
Another thing scammers know is that victims will turn to anyone after the scam ends which feeds their desperation and desires, especially for anger and revenge.
The sad truth is that scam victims are very often severely traumatized by these crimes and have very impaired decision-making. Victims react emotionally and impulsively, going from one bad choice to many more. These often lead right back to more scams, and fake anti-scam social media groups are a perfect place for scammers to harvest more victims who are ready for the easy answers that scammers can provide.
Every victim, before joining any anti-scam group or even listening to what they say should verify that the group is a registered nonprofit organization.
For example, SCARS is incorporated in the U.S. State of Florida Registration #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Click Here To Confirm Verifying an organization’s status is simple, but victims need to adopt a mindset to verify first before they trust.
Being Scammed Over And Over
Victims need to understand that scammers are business people, they are not kids sitting on a floor somewhere. They are well-trained and have plenty of money to spend on tools and techniques that will get them more money.
As we often say: ‘Scammers only need to succeed once. Victims need to succeed every time to avoid being scammed!’
Scammers will not give up, and to make it worse, they will sell their victim lists to other scammers, so that after one scam ends there may be dozens of other scammers trying to lure each victim into another deception.
It is important to note that scam victims can be vulnerable to further attempts by scammers for many months to come and for several reasons, including psychological, emotional, and situational factors. Not only those already mentions but also out of fear, intimidation, and unawareness:
- Hope for a Different Outcome: Despite their past negative experiences, scam victims might hope that the new interaction with the scammer will lead to a different and positive outcome. This includes begging the scammer to return their money and keep their promises. This hope can cloud their judgment and make them more vulnerable to further manipulation.
- Fear and Intimidation: In some cases, scammers might use threats or intimidation to keep victims engaged or to prevent them from reporting the scam. The fear of potential repercussions may compel victims to continue the interaction, even if they suspect it’s a scam. This is especially common at the end of a scam to get at least one more payment from a victim but can come back even months after the crime with threats on the victim or their family.
- Ignorance and Unawareness: Few victims know very much about these crimes or how the transnational organized crime networks really work. They are ignorant about the depth of the psychological manipulation and control (this is something SCARS works hard on correcting.) This leads victims to believe that what they have learned from other victims will be enough to keep them safe – in other words, they don’t know what they don’t know! This makes them highly vulnerable to different scam typologies and models.
That Is Why Scammers Come Back
All of these, and many other factors make it easy for scammers to come back over and over and revictimize their past victims.
Based on SCARS research, we show that the average number of times that a victim is scammed is 4.3 times – meaning many are one and done, and others can be scammed over and over.
Every victim needs to be aware of the following and carefully factor these into everything they do after a scam ends:
- Understand why the scam happened and why they were vulnerable.
- Understand how these criminals use lures, grooming, manipulation, and control.
- Understand that not all scams are going to be ‘long-cons,” some will be short-term fraud (‘short-cons’) and operate completely differently.
- Understand that victims are not experts in anything but being scammed, look for and find professionals who are experts in the subject matter.
- Understand that they will be impaired and their decision-making is emotional and impulsive, and unless they take the time to research their decisions will simply lead to more bad outcomes.
- Understand that scammers will never go away and will never give up. Each victim needs to protect themselves against the barrage of strangers contacting them.
- Understand that it is possible to recover from these crimes with professional help, but even with help victims will be more vulnerable than before. This increased vulnerability will last for months at a minimum – there are no quick fixes – but this depends on professional support. Many victims will never seek help and never recover.
- Understand that being scammed again is a choice – a choice to do what needs to be done to get professional support, learn from experts, and stay safe; or to listen to the wrong people, ignore quality credible information, and make impulsive emotionally driven decisions that take them back to places of danger.
Recovery for scam victims is hard but much easier than the alternative. Scammers are waiting for victims to make their choices. Make good choices!