wHAT CAN YOU DO?
Talk about fraud, scams and financial abuse with your friends and family
Share your experiences and make fraud, scams and financial abuse part of day-to-day conversations. This will help to break down the stigma and shame which is so often felt by victims, and will encourage victims to report and get the help and support that they need.
Recognise the impact that this crime can have on its victims
Victims of fraud, scams and financial abuse are not stupid, naïve, or greedy - they are victims of a crime.
Do not victim blame. Put the blame on the criminal where it belongs.
Phrases such as ‘how could anyone fall for that’ implies that it’s obvious and puts blame on the victim for not realising and responding. The criminals behind fraud, scams and financial abuse use coercive and controlling behaviour to defraud victims – the blame should be on the criminals, not the victims.
The phrase ‘fall for a scam’ is often used, but you don’t hear ‘fall for a burglary’. This kind of language puts blame on the victim. We need to change the language we use when talking to, and about scam victims, to take away the blame and shame.
Research showed that when people realised they’d become a victim of a scam, the most common feelings were being ‘angry’ with themselves, (46%), feeling ‘stupid’ (40%) and ‘embarrassed’ (38%).
The language we use when talking to, and about scam victims is really important - No Blame. No Shame.
Interested in learning more? Read the below blog from Professor Keith Brown, Louise Baxter MBE, Dr Elisabeth Carter, Dr Tim Day and Jennifer Hawkswood.
TIME TO ACT ON COERCION AND CONTROL IN FRAUD, SCAMS AND FINANCIAL ABUSE.
Coercion, Control, Grooming, isolation and manipulation
Research shows that coercion is used in fraud, scams and financial abuse to build trust with victims. Time is spent building a relationship with the victim. This coercion takes place before any money is exchanged. Criminals may take advantage of individuals, encouraging people to keep the ‘relationship’ a secret, using an ‘it’s us against the world’ approach to manipulate the victim into isolating themselves from networks of support. The same is true of many scam types, such as clairvoyants or investment scams. Coercion is a successful technique in the abuse of people - be it financial, domestic or both - because the victims are manipulated into feeling the need to comply so strongly.
Escalation over time
Domestic abuse escalates over time, forming patterns. Research shows that fraud, scams and financial abuse follow a similar pattern. It may start with legitimate transactions. As in domestic abuse, victims/survivors may feel – or be- reliant on criminals: economically, due to care needs, wanting a romantic relationship to continue. Criminals place themselves front and centre of the victim’s life- but distort this so that the victim feels they could not have a good life without them. A dependency is created which works to the criminal’s advantage. We also see this in other types of fraud, scams and financial abuse.
The language we use is so important- it has the power to build people up or knock them down. If we have lost money to a criminal, we might ask ourselves ‘why did I fall for it?’ ‘how could I have been so stupid?’. Others may say ‘how could anyone fall for that…it’s obviously a scam’. We tend to label ourselves- and other victims- as naïve, stupid, or greedy. Similarly in domestic abuse we still hear people ask ‘why didn’t they just leave?’ [the abusive relationship]- as if it were that simple. We hear abuse referred to as ‘just a domestic…an argument that got out of hand’ when what has taken place is often criminal. Similarly in fraud, scams, and financial abuse the words ‘swindle, cheat, bamboozle’ are used, downplaying the criminal nature of what has taken place. This language shames victims into keeping quiet about their experiences.
73% of UK adults have been targeted by scams, with 35% losing money because of this criminal offence. The average amount lost by victims is £1,730, but fewer than a third report the crime to the authorities.
We need to change the language we use and consider the coercive and controlling nature of the criminals. We need to fully understand both the financial and emotional impact of these abuses and crimes and encourage people to share and report their experiences. Let’s place the blame on the criminals and not on the victims. We need to take away the shame.
Read the report - Coercion and control in financial abuse; learning from domestic abuse
Follow the steps above to take action now against fraud, scams and financial abuse.