By Soraya Grant
Where do you go when you have just begun to realize the person you fell in love with online was really a scammer or group of scammers? Talking to family and friends about it may be difficult, especially at first. General purpose chat rooms are often a bit rough; many that were set up for "clean" chat are populated by people who are looking for online (and sometimes offline) hookups and affairs, people looking for an online fight, and scammers. Even quality support sites for related issues such as loneliness or anxiety might simply not have the knowledge to help you cope with your scam. The people there may mean well, they just don't fully understand what you're talking about or know what to say.
Scams of the Heart hosts an online support chat room for anyone who has been scammed, fears they may be talking to a scammer, or is concerned that a family member or friend is or has been the victim of an online romance scam.
Our Promises To Anyone Who Uses the Chat Room
If You Need to Talk About an Online Romance Scam, We Will Listen
We have no problem with general, off topic conversations, but if someone comes in needing to talk about online romance scams, the topic of the room immediately switches to online romance scams and stays on topic as long as the person needs to talk. It does not matter if you discovered you or someone in your life was being scammed today, three weeks ago, or four years ago. If something has come up and you need to talk about the scam, you will not be ignored, interrupted with off topic chatter, or pushed to change the subject. We will be here for you.
Your Scam Will Be Taken Seriously
Scams of the Heart members understand that an online romance scam is not a bad relationship, a cheater, or a crush that turned out to be a jerk. We understand the emotional, psychological, and often financial devastation that happens during romance scams. You will not be dismissed with "get over it" or "oh well you're better off without him" type comments here.
We Will Do Our Best to Keep the Common Chat Room Problems Away
Each chatter's ip address and location is visible to the moderators. They have already blocked ips from areas with high concentrations of scammers, such as Nigeria and Ghana, from the room, and have no problem blocking individual ip addresses from any Americans or people from other nations who enter the room and attempt to run a scam. It is further noted in several places on Scams of the Heart's main page, Squidoo page, and this site that we are not an online hookup or dating site. People who join are made aware that this is not the place to come if they are looking for someone to flirt with, hook up with, date, or marry. We also make it clear on the main page that this is not the place to come looking for a fight over religion, politics, social issues, or anything else people like to go into chat rooms and pick fights about. The atmosphere in the chat room is one of respect for other people.
We Encourage and Support Healing and Recovery
Joining the Scams of the Heart chat room does not doom you to be a scam victim and nothing more. You will find that you, and other members, will need to focus on the scam at different times, but we are not here to force you to forever dwell on what happened during and immediately after the scam. You will find support and encouragement as you learn to re-establish trust in yourself and other people, strengthen old offline friendships and make new friends, begin dating again, go back to work, go back to school, or dive into a hobby or interest.
Scams of the Heart Chat Has a "Here When You Need Us" Policy
There have been some very strong friendships formed in the chat room, and we have several members who come in to chat as a regular part of their week or day. At the same time, we encourage members to have additional social circles and other interests. There is no set amount of time you are required to devote to the chat room to be "accepted" and we hope you don't give up the things you love or brush off your family members or offline friends in order to come in and chat. We will not be offended if you need to come in and discuss scams and scam recovery for a while but are not interested in making new lifelong friends. Whether you spend your entire day logged into the chat room, just come in once to ask about some scam related issues, or anything in between, you will be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. Friendships may form, but this is not anyone's online clique. We are here for anyone who needs us.
We Have a Confidentiality Rule
As with any quality support group, what is said in the room or learned about someone in the room stays in the room. We will not reveal the details of your scam to anyone else on any other web site, over the phone, or in any other form of communication. Each person owns what happened to them and it is entirely up to them to decide who else needs to know about it.
There Is No Hierarchy of Scams Here
At Scams of the Heart, we do not play any "I was scammed worse than you" games. Most online romance scams are based in Nigeria, Ghana, Malaysia, or a country from the former USSR. This makes them the most common, not the worst or the most important. Some online romance scams are carried out by Americans. This makes them rarer, not worse or more important. Regardless of where your scam originated, you will not be treated as less important than someone who lost more money to the scammer, spent more time believing they were in a relationship with the scammer, or spent more money on clothes, airfare, or other things to please what they believed to be their boyfriend or girlfriend than you. It does not matter if you were scammed by a Nigerian ring who tricked you into sending thousands of dollars, scammers from across your own country who tried to get you to send them new electronics as "presents," somebody across town because they just get a kick out of manipulating and hurting people online, or any other combination of details. We are all equal here.