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Scams are a billion-dollar industry. They come in all forms of communication; email, websites, and phones. One particular scam specialized for mental health therapists is on the rise. The scammers use psychological tactics and swindle their victims out of thousands of dollars.
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A Mind-Control Scam
It sounds ludicrous. But it’s basic psychology. Scammers pretend to be in an authoritative position, like a cop, because, in society, we’re taught to obey authority without question.
This new scam targets women therapists, while the grifter is a man. Part of this is because it’s easy to find a therapist’s work cell number as they list it on their site for potential clients.
Next, they build a sense of urgency with a threat, usually possible incarceration. The cop on the phone can help you avoid this as long as you pay a fine or bail. Using gaslighting and their position, they cause the women to seesaw emotionally, caught in a whirlpool, unable to process what transpires.
In this state, the ability to think clearly diminishes so simple logic like calling a lawyer or loved one vanishes. The emotional toll is as brutal as the monetary loss, maybe even worse.
A husband shared that his wife, whose profession is mental health, lost 10k with this scam. The grifter kept her on the phone for over eight hours as she drove from bank to bank, withdrawing money.
After that, she’d head to different pharmacies and purchase gift cards. Ultimately, she bought twenty gift cards and put $500 on each of them.
She sat in her car and told the man on the phone the number for each card. In the end, before getting off the phone, the scammer told her to head to the police station. When she showed up, she finally realized it was a scam. The police reached out to the husband then.
Does Not Mean You’re Gullible
He stressed that his wife is incredibly bright. She has a doctorate and a successful practice, but this scam is made for women therapists. Being a mental health doctor and understanding psychological techniques to manipulate, terrorize, and gaslight does not mean they cannot be victims. His wife is “traumatized” and feels “ashamed.”
As they are not rich, that financial loss also hurts her as she feels responsible.
These scams have a large impact on the health of the individual and the family. He doesn’t know how to handle this. Despite understanding that she is a victim, he feels anger toward his wife. While she was driving around getting gift cards, she never called him, and he had no idea where she was or what was happening as he cared for their 2-year-old.
She also gave the scammer his information, so he’s scared for himself and their child. The financial hit was horrific enough, but emotionally they struggled, alternating between feeling frightened, arguing, and sobbing.
He doesn’t know how to support his wife because he resents that “she’s done this to our family.” In his mind, she didn’t stop to think about the harm to him or their kid. The fact that they budgeted for years to save that money, and it “disappeared overnight” bothers him.
A handful of commenters pointed out that his anger shouldn’t be at his wife. She is the victim. It’s harder to feel sympathy because the harm is psychological, and there was no physical violence, but she is a victim nonetheless. His wife was doing what she believed was right to protect her family.
Though the husband understands logically that these scams happen, he does not understand how skilled these grifters are at psychological manipulation.
Many replied, offering sympathy to the entire family. A few users also suggested couples counseling to help them through this rocky time. Another former fraud analyst also stressed that it is common and these scammers are “good at what they do.” The most you can do is be aware the scam exists and be supportive if someone you love falls victim to it.
This thread inspired this post.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
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