Why we should shed the stigma of being scammed

Mental health is the latest aspect of our lives that is quite rightly being destigmatised, and next on the list should be being scammed.

This isn’t a problem that only faces the old and vulnerable, this is something that can affect us all.

It is estimated that in the 12 months prior to 30th September 2020 there were 4.4 million fraud offences in the UK, but the figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) via Action Fraud, Cifas and UK Finance, showed that just 730,765 offences had been reported which is just 16.6%.

There’s a perception that the victims are falling for badly worded emails from Nigerian Princes, promoting the idea that these are gullible “boomers” who aren’t ready for the nuances of modern life, whereas in reality, there are victims in every generational group. We are all a target, and we are all susceptible to coercion at some point in our lives.

So why is it that we are embarrassed about falling for a scam? Would you feel the same way if you had been burgled?

  • Is it because you feel responsible?
  • You blame yourself?
  • You feel humiliated?
  • You fear what people will think of you?

These are all justifiable questions to ask ourselves after the event, but how many of us really answer them. The first two questions are a form of victim shaming in the same way that women are told to not wear revealing clothes so as not to invite unwanted attention, they are not the problem here, it is the criminals whose actions need to be corrected. Now I’m not saying that there is zero responsibility here, we are all responsible for our own actions, and we need to learn from ours and others mistakes, but these are sophisticated groups who are highly skilled from many years of practice in getting what they want.

This isn’t a fluke or a silly mistake, this is a professional level deception that traps all people from all walks of life, I have personally heard examples of somebody who works in cyber security falling victim to an investment scam, as well as others from professions that would include InfoSec training, and if they are victims, then we can all be victims.

“Victims may be confused, fearful, frustrated and angry. They want to know why this happened, and why it happened to them. Victims often have no knowledge of who or where to turn in the aftermath of crime. know who to trust or rely on for support, understanding, and help.” – The Impact of Victimization Prepared by the Canadian Resource Center for Victims of Crime

If we can continue to shed the negative stigma around being a victim of scams by sharing our stories, then we can help stop other people from falling victim to them.

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