Are you Angry? Feeling Helpless? These are normal emotions experienced when a loved one is being scammed. Your feelings may be even stronger where the person is in denial.
Here are a few suggestions how you can help a relative or friend who is in the clutches of a Scammer.
First, you need to confirm that they definitely are being/have been Scammed. If you are fortunate, they will tell you everything. If not, you may need to investigate. The lengths that you go to are entirely your choice and responsibility. Once you have confirmed the Scam, ask the Victim what they would like to happen next. This both empowers the person and also helps them to feel that they are in control, a position they will probably now realise the Scammer has held over them.
If the Victim agrees, you should ensure that all contact with the Scammer STOPS. Find out exactly what personal information has been revealed. If just an e.mail address, block the Scammer’s address or much better still and if practicable, change the Victim’s e.mail address and close the old one. If the Scammer has the Victim’s phone number, it is best to change it. Often, mobile phone and landline providers will agree to do this free of charge in cases of crime or harassment. Finally, if a physical address has also been given, seek advice from local Police.
If money has been paid, report this promptly to the Police and also to the payment provider, whether bank or Western Union/MoneyGram, etc. If a bank to bank money transfer has been made, there is a small chance that the Victim’s Bank may be able to recoup the monies. Otherwise, and as with Western Union and MoneyGram payments, the monies will undoubtedly be lost.
Being Scammed can have unpleasant effects upon a Victim. These may include anger, depression, self-reproach, blame and guilt, etc. The Victim will need some form of support and this will depend on the person and how hard they take it. Talking about it helps and finding someone who knows how to listen effectively may prove tremendously useful. www.befrienders.org provides free emotional support worldwide. More specialist support may be obtained at www.scamwarners.com where experienced anti-scam volunteers are on hand for Scam Victims.
Your task will be much harder if the Victim is in denial and does not accept that they are being (or have been) Scammed. Try searching online for the Scammer’s details (e.mail address/phone number passages from the first e.mail). Often, these lead to anti-scam websites where the Scammer is already known. Show these results to the Victim. Post some of the Scammer’s e.mails at ScamWarners for scrutiny by experts. Show the Victim the replies as these are posted.
If the Victim remains in denial, it is essential that you do whatever you can to prevent the Scammer from contacting the person. Without the Victim’s co-operation, this is likely to be difficult. Exactly what you are prepared to do and how you go about it will be your choice. It may be that a representative of your local Police or perhaps an anti-scam volunteer could talk things through with the Victim. Do bear in mind that provided the Victim is legally an adult and of sound mind, the person will normally have absolute right to decide what, if anything, they want to do about their situation with the Scammer. Exceptions will be where the person is a child, in which case their legal guardian/s will be responsible, or if they are of unsound mind, or if the purloined funds are jointly owned.
It is almost impossible to define all of the possible Scam Victim scenarios, but support and advice are available from the various bodies mentioned throughout this article.
Finally, try to remain patient, supportive, and remember that the Victim may be experiencing some pretty strong emotions, even if they do not immediately show it.