This topic is specially made for romance scam victims. The cases we are talking about and we are able to help with are online scams only.
It is never easy when you realize you are a victim of a scam. In real life, when this is happening, there are various ways to deal with it: law enforcement, court, a community or at least some close friends able to help you recover. When the scam is happening online, you are alone. You only found out that dream you had is nothing more than empty words, mostly stolen. You began to search the Internet for info. If you are lucky, you may find some: same pictures you received reported with another name, same lovely messages you got received by a lot of other people scammed before you or maybe even the same email address used with different identities. If you are not so lucky, you may start wondering why your online love has so many problems you need to pay for all the time. After that the real challenge began: what you can do about it?
All the reports posted here are proven scammers. If a report we receive is lacking information, we are asking for those details and we are checking all those details before posting. We do not copy-paste scam related info reported on other anti-scam sites, because there is no way we can check those details properly. The information we have on the site is provided only by people having direct contact with the scammers reported here. The real identity of the victim is protected. If the victim is doing what we advise him/her to do, the scammer will be unable to get back on that victim, trying to scam that victim again. All the information gathered are posted in a clear way for any other potential victim to find it for free, before getting sucked in a scam using the same elements as the ones reported here.
What you have to do?
1 - Tell us about it.
If you have any doubts about someone you met online only that may scam you, let us know. Give us the details you have about that person. For doing that, you have more options:
Post on the site the basic elements about the person in the area "Am I been scammed? / Is this a scammer?". The basic details are:
- the email address the person used;
- some of the pictures that person sent to you;
- the first (and second) email you received from that person;
- the reason you believe it may be a scammer.
2 - Do what we are saying you need to do for protecting yourself. Everything we are talking about here is based on experience. Some of us have been scammed before, some not. All the staff members here have dealt with scam related problems for long time and our advice are based on that experience. If we tell you to do or not to do something, there is a good reason for it.
3 - You need to trust us at least as much as we trust you.
What not to do, and why.
Don't keep the contact with the scammer after you realize he/she is a scammer. As long as he is able to communicate with you, he is able to scam you. Changing everything used with a scammer is the only way to avoid falling again in the same trap.
Don't start chasing the scammer all over the Internet. As long as you do it, this is a sign that in your mind the scammer is a real person when he is not.
Don't try to get personal revenge messing with the scammer. You may be tempted to do it, to recover your self- esteem damaged by the scammer and to prove to yourself that you can damage him in some way. As long as you do it, that will make you forget you need to deal with your own problems after being scammed first and to recover for real. In fact, anything you will do will only help the scammer and lead to these:
3a - filling the comments area on his/her fake profile with warnings that he is a scammer will only make the scammer aware he is exposed. He will change his fake profile with another one and he will scam forward.
3b - contacting his/her friends on his social / dating profiles and warning them he/she is a scammer. Some of his friends are other victims under his spell entirely, some are other fake profiles the scammer use trying to look genuine. By doing this you only warn the scammer he is exposed.
3c Reporting his fake profile on a free dating / social site. Yes, that may end with the profile being closed. But this action will save no one. The victims already in contact with that scammer are hooked anyway and for the other ones the scammer will find always an excuse.
3d Telling the scammer what he has done wrong and why do you know he is a scammer, sometimes sending him links to the anti-scam reports about his fake persona. By doing this you not only waste all the time and effort that people have done for reporting and researching that scammer, but you will educate the scammer and he will become better for the next victim he will scam, while exposing the previous victims the scammer was in contact with.
The real post-scam recovery...
... began when you decided to question if someone met online only is a scammer or not. Reporting the info you have about the scammer to someone like us it is the first step you need to make, to prove yourself you are willing to get out of that trap. As long as you are not doing it or you are doing it while keeping some parts of those info for yourself, you don't want to lose the hope, despite all the evidences, that your scammer may be real.
... keep up when, after giving us all the details about the scammer and providing all those details to your local law enforcement, you remove the scammer from every place you have it: your email, your phone, your online profiles: blocking him online and deleting the stolen pictures used / messages received will stop you to go back and re-read again and again the same words, willing to believe he might be real.
The first days after you realize you were scammed are the hardest ones, because you start doubting yourself, questioning your judgment. Let's be clear about it: you have done nothing wrong. The only thing you can kick yourself for is that you trusted someone - this is the main reason you need to learn how to deal with online people. Not everyone around is fake and not everyone is asking for money to prove your love; healthy skepticism and education may help you to improve yourself in this area.
The path from being a victim to becoming a survivor is not the same from case to case. Sooner or later you will find your own way. Trust yourself. When you have doubts, ask. We are here to reply and help. But we can not help you if you don't want to help yourself.