28 Sep EMOTIONAL RECOVERY IN THE AFTERMATH OF A SCAM
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EMOTIONAL RECOVERY IN THE AFTERMATH OF A SCAM
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
Here we are in October of 2021! At the end of this month, we’ll celebrate Halloween, where many of us join together in the season of “trick or treat.” One day out of the year, it’s fun to dress up in costumes and pretend to be someone other than who you really are — and eat lots of candy corn, to boot! But scammers pretend to be someone other than who they are 24/7. They may or may not, however, eat candy corn on all those days! Nonetheless, scammers are experts at tricking or fooling people, conning us into believing lies and taking actions that are extremely hurtful and damaging not only to our finances, but to our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Remember: Con artists are criminals who consciously and intentionally design and engineer ways to manipulate, deceive and control us. This is how they make their living, by perpetrating crimes of persuasion. And even though we may take steps to counter these tactics, we can still fall prey to fraudulent schemes. So, what if the unthinkable happens, i.e., we wake up one day and realize we’ve been scammed? How did this happen? What steps can we take to recover from the loss and trauma of being ripped off? There are no definitive answers to these questions, but the information below is a good place to start. Recovery, it turns out, is a process.
First of all, it’s important to realize that anyone can be scammed. No one is exempt. It doesn’t matter how educated you are, or how much money you make, or how intelligent you think you are. Scams can happen to the best of us and the worst of us. Regardless, being scammed is a huge shock to the system! So, you may say, “I should have known” or “Why didn’t I see the red flag?” These statements of self-blame reflect what Cathy Wilson LPC ACS — Director of LifePaths Counseling Center in Littleton, CO, and author of the book, “The Emotional Impact of Being Scammed and How to Recover” — calls hindsight bias. “We hold our past selves accountable for things we know today, as if we also knew it at some point in the past. In the present, you see red flags or clues that happened, and it sheds new light on events of the past. You will have to work at it to avoid thinking that you “should have known” back then what you know today.” (1) I read Cathy Wilson’s book, and I have to say it is an excellent resource, offering a wide variety of healing strategies for scam survivors. I highly recommend reading it.
Secondly, it’s important to recognize that being scammed is not unlike losing a loved one. It’s a kind of sudden death. Things are not what they used to be. We don’t feel like our old selves. Who were we then, and who are we now? To recover and restore our sense of wellbeing requires that we be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves to grieve. Grieving usually involves these five elements: Anger, Denial, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. Not everyone goes through the grieving process in the same way, and there is no right or wrong way or order to experience grief. But allowing yourself to grieve is an important part of the healing process. Not allowing feelings of grief may hinder recovery.
One of the most important “first actions” that we can take to bolster our recovery after having been scammed is to report the incident to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Although it may seem difficult or even impossible at the beginning to do such a thing, this one step can be liberating and can set you quickly on the road to recovery. Let’s face it – Speaking out about what happened to you, despite any feelings of guilt or shame or fear of judgment from others, shows courage. Courage to sound the alarm, and hope that this will never happen to you, or anyone else, again. Courage to not remain silent. Reporting the scam will go a long way in restoring your faith in yourself and in humanity.
There are many avenues to recovery from having been scammed. Healing involves becoming a survivor, not just a victim. Some people find it helpful to see a therapist or counselor to work through the feelings of shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, fear, etc. that come up during the aftermath of being scammed. Therapeutic support groups are also helpful. And consider utilizing self-help advice from those who have been there and done that, like Annie McGuire, fraud victim advocate and founder of Fraud Aid, Inc. See “Coping With The Aftermath Of A Fraud: 12 steps to getting your life back on track.”(2)
But whatever path you follow on the way to healing, perhaps the best advice is simply to talk about what happened. Fraudsters win when we are silent and lose when we spread the word about their nefarious activities. So let us adopt this motto: Be Empowered. Find Your Voice. Speak Out About Fraud!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
If you believe you have been the target or victim of a of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, you may also report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
1 – Wilson LPC ACS, Cathy. The Emotional Impact of Being Scammed and How to Recover (p. 45). LifePaths PLLC. Kindle Edition.
2 – http://www.fraudaid.com/library/articles/12_steps.htm — “Coping With The Aftermath Of A Fraud: 12 steps to getting your life back on track.”
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO OUR SISTER ORGANIZATION IN ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA!
We at SSSAP want to give a special shout out to our Friend Patricia Everett for being a SSSAP Scam Educator in St John, New Brunswick, Canada! It’s wonderful to work with our friends in St. John and to share resources for combatting scams that target seniors. Together, we get the word out about stopping senior scams! Thanks Patricia!
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM CONTINUES VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING
SSSAP is continuing to book virtual programs and will soon be booking in-person programs in the late fall and winter. Please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com for more information, or if your organization would like to host our program.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Please go to the SSSAP YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA to see our new videos. If you subscribe (free of charge), you will be notified when new videos are released. Together we can Stop Senior Scams! Here are links to two of our most recent videos: “The Top Senior Scams with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg, and “Robocalls, Mail Fraud and Merlin with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=186s.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.