Trauma from scam - how do I move on?
TL; DR: the scammers impersonated the police over the phone but had uniforms and badges, tried to arrest me for crimes I didn’t commit, and got me to transfer them my savings because they needed my assets frozen, threatened to harm my brother and partner if I didn’t do as they said.
I live in Australia and am a dual citizen. I have a good job and earn decent money. I’m well educated and got promoted to a 3-5 year of experience position after 1.5 year of working. So I was very proud of myself. I felt like that was a pitfall and I am now being punish for my hubris.
Fast forward to the end of 2.5 hours of interrogation with the scammers impersonating police from my birth country, with uniforms and badges, playing good cop bad cop, they managed to get me to send my joint saving with my partner over the last year ($10k) to an account with a state owned bank in my birth country, because they needed to freeze my assets during the investigation.
Over the next few days, there was a lot of manipulation and psychological harassments from these scammers ie keeping me on the phone over meal time, yelling, pointing out sounds in the background, making warnings about my safety and my brother and partner’s safety, etc. A couple of days like that, and I eventually mustered up the courage to call my lawyer just to be told that I was being scammed and should go to the police.
Now, I’ve reported this to the Australian police, banks, etc. The scammers didn’t stop. They bombarded my phone with messages and calls from all messaging apps. I had to change my number as a result. My partner and I made decent money but we had student debt, credit card debt and living expenses is a nightmare in the city. It took us years pinching pennies to save up that much. I couldn’t tell my parents how much money I lost because when I tried, when I had the word “scam” out of my mouth, my mom told me I was silly and gullible.
I could not shake off the shame. I was not aware a scam could be this elaborate.
I’m depressed and on the verge of crying all the time. During the first day when this happened, I wished it was a scam so that the whole thing would stop. Now it stopped and I can’t stop beating myself up. I just want to move on so that I can focus on making that money back.
Welcome to the Forums. We are so sorry to hear what you have been though - that is truly awful.
That feeling of shame can be really common after an experience like this, however that does not make it any easier to cope with. Please know that you are not "silly" or "gullible". Scams can be extremely sophisticated and difficult to detect. It can be a scary and unsettling experience and very brave of you to reach out and report what was happening.
While you may already have this information, here is some advice about reporting and recovering from scams.
An experience like this can take a significant emotional toll. If you’d like to talk things through at any point, the Beyond Blue counsellors a call on 1300 22 4636, available 24/7, or you can speak to them on webchat here.
Once again, thank you for sharing here today. We hope that you can treat yourself with kindness during this really difficult time.
My heart goes out to you with you having had such a cruel and deeply upsetting experience. In my top 5 of people who enrage me the most, scammers are in there. The destruction they cause can be immense. I wish there was a word more fitting that 'scammer', one that reflects the amount of damage they create in the lives of others. In my opinion, no single word can adequately describe exactly what they do to people.
I know it's easy for me to say but you have nothing to feel ashamed about. People like this spend a long time constructing plans, with every possible detail covered. They're mentally and emotionally manipulative and even physically manipulative as they trigger people's nervous systems out of fear. Some are masters at creating self doubt while leading people to override their every instinct. And some will work on tapping into the best in a person, the part that relates to love and compassion, such as the love and compassion you feel for your brother and partner and your fear if anything was to happen to them. You are a beautiful, hard working, deeply loving person and that is how your mother should be describing you. You were not gullible, you were fearful and understandably so.
My heart always goes out to people who are survivors of scammers. While I try to imagine myself in their shoes, the anxiety would be horrible and the upset over having lost so much hard earned money is something I would feel to be immense. There would be some sense of grief to it. So many mixed emotions without also adding shame to that. Please don't add shame, as it's such a degrading and depressing feeling, one that leads us to feel 'less than' others. You are far more conscious in many ways than those who have led you to suffer. You are stronger in your work ethic, you are stronger in your sense of compassion, stronger when it comes to your morals, stronger in the ways of loving, stronger in your ways of feeling and strong in so many other ways.
As you find strength and direction in moving forward, perhaps some simple mantras may help a little in gradually leaving a sense of shame behind. At the start of each working day 'I am working hard to build our savings, in order to create future opportunities' could be one. With every thousand dollars earned, this could be treated as a milestone to be celebrated in some way, with each new level reached. As a survivor of destruction brought about by others, you are now a builder, a creator. Don't let shame be a part of the foundations you lay.