top of page

The Boat Amidst the Tempest: Getting your Mental Bearings After Being Scammed

Mental health after being scammed

"Ah man, I'm so sorry that happened to you. But you know,” My friend’s face darkens as she leans towards me, her voice lowering, “that kind of thing can honestly happen to anyone. It’s happened to me too.”

It's happened to me too.

My best friend of 12 years and I were camped up in a café, confiding in each other as we hid from the rain.

Yet, how could it be that I didn’t know she had been scammed before too?

I left my friend momentarily and when I returned, I saw her carrying on the same conversation with the woman who had sat on the table next to us! It became clear this was an important issue affecting all people.

Nevertheless, this is far from the only tale of friends being scammed, or near-misses!

See, crime doesn’t only affect the scammed in that one space, one time. It isn’t born, bred, and contained in a bubble. It resounds, echoes, imprints.

One's mental health in all this - the boat amidst the tempest - is vulnerable and deserves discussing.

Because if things are feeling topsy-turvy, that’s fine. You are not alone, and it’s happened to (sadly) many others, it's redundant to have any singular perception of a ‘scammed’ person.

How I Felt and How I Coped: Flashbacks and Anxiety

Immediately after the incident my bedroom, where I had been sat and observed in by the scammers, no longer felt safe.

The walls that had previously sheltered me, soothed me to sleep, and seen me at my most vulnerable were now plastered in invisible 'Crime Scene' police tape.

My mind would often replay the event in a bid to make sure I had taken care of everything, every minutiae that could possibly go wrong.

But I had to remind myself often when I had anxiety spikes in my chest, that it isn't happening to me right now in the present. Some mindful breaths, and finding something to anchor me to the moment really helped.

I actually picked up knitting the same day I was scammed. I felt like I needed an artistic, yet fidgety activity that could keep me distracted while also calming me down. Picking up a current, old, or new hobby is something to consider if you're struggling with anxiety, or finding your mind drifts to replaying the event over and over.

How I Felt and How I Coped: Unsuccessful Investigations and Recovery of Funds

However, I was in a trickier position when I found out that the police couldn't find anything, and the money I had given to the scammers was gone for good. My bank wouldn't recover it. I honestly felt like the crime was happening all over again. It took my mother's help there to remind me that it wasn't.

Truthfully, a big part of healing is allowing yourself to rely and lean on your support network. Ask for help. Ask for company. Ask for advice. And be willing to receive, if offered.

I had perhaps mismanaged my expectations of retrieving the funds and had to readjust to the current reality.

I had to remind myself that there are bigger things in life, and money ultimately comes and goes. There are other spaces to focus my energy on that don't dwell on the past that I can't change.

Of course, it may be that your financial situation cannot permit you to just think this way. You may have mouths to feed, and people to care for.

I do not wish to be insensitive to these circumstances, and in which case, there are likely more appropriate methods for coping with these feelings, but I'm not the person to discuss this. Please seek all the help you can get, and I wish you the very best.

How I Felt and How I Coped: Trust Issues

Since the incident, I've been seeing the potential danger in everyone a little more.

Answering calls from unknown numbers is harder for me to do, which is unhelpful at a time where one may expect unknown numbers calling about your laptop that's being repaired, or job applications you've submitted.

In some ways, the newfound alertness is useful. I've dodged some dubious looking emails recently that I figured out were likely phishing faster than I have before.

And it's also useful to harness the doubt to ensure people are who they say they are. To confirm fully that so-and-so is really calling/messaging from so-and-so, and are calling in your best interest.

But there are times when people are genuine, or actively trying to help, and we have to be open, receptive, to these people. We can't be living in a perpetuate state of anxiety.

Firstly, it's best (I think) to initially, post-scam, consume mostly "good, wholehearted" media. Be it the most recent positive news stories, or some uplifting film that reminds you of the good in the world. For me, this was my family animated movie binging phase!

It's not healthy for one to get sucked into obsessively believing all people are entirely bad, or good even. It's a balance, and at the moment, you're likely negatively biased, and need some tipping in the other direction.

When dealing with new people (e.g. other genuine sellers), to trust is to remember to be in the moment- you must recognise that this entirely other person isn't the same attacker.

There's a certain level of needing to strip away our expectations for people, and letting instead their behaviour speak for them.

Tips to Arm Yourself With

If you're unsure about someone, check with the organisation they claim to be from first. If a stranger pressures or rushes you into sending money/making a purchase, they're likely suspicious.

Report phishing emails through or forwarding texts to 7726.

If you have been scammed, let your bank know immediately and report the incident to Action Fraud (UK) at

Romance scam red flags:

- They are reluctant to meet in person or expose their face.

- Their photos seem fake.

- They use generic language or terms.

- The relationship develops at an unusually fast pace.

- There comes a crisis situation, where they claim they need money.


bottom of page