I’m not really sure if I’ve ever been a victim of crime - I can’t remember anything that stands out. I know I’ve never been a victim of fraud - I’d remember that I think because I have a business and like to think I’m fairly savvy.
Then again, my old man used to think he was fairly savvy. Built up a business, ran it for thirty odd years fairly well (though he was never going to rival Branson or Sugar). He just seemed to love “the deal” and meeting people.
Then one day he died - massive stroke and a few days later, gone. I suppose because I worked with him in the business even though I was the youngest son I was the one that did most of the sorting and running around for mum and the family - it made sense as I “knew what was going on”.
Except I didn’t, did I? Because he didn’t, did he?
It turned out that over the years my “savvy” dad had been investing quite a lot of money in scam share schemes, lots of them in the States. Some of them looked sound enough at first glance but they weren’t. And when I totted up how much….well, that’s when the real shock set in. A few quid here and there? No problem. Oh no, somewhere between a quarter and a half million pounds!
Now, as I said, dad was a pretty good businessman. So I couldn’t understand how this had happened. Why? What possessed him? Why didn’t we (I) realise what he was doing and stop him?
I guess the truth is that it’s not that easy to know what’s going on at the time if it’s about scams or fraud. It’s only later that you realise - and in this case it’s other people, me and dad’s family, who realised. The real impact was on us not really on him.
It would be easy to really blame my dad, to resent him for all the emotional stuff he put us through (“why was he so stupid; how could he do this to us” etc) and I still get the occasional call from some guy in the States about the shares; I can’t write my response!. But it wasn’t him who scammed or cheated anybody. He and us were the victims in all this. And it helped to have friends who were able to talk to me about all this - one works with victims and really understood the issues.
But what about those people who don’t have someone who understands? Who feel cheated, stupid and, yes, alone? That’s why I said I’d write this blog when I was asked - because I can see the need for people to know what help is out there and how they can get it. It doesn’t make anything go away but it does help you cope and get over what has happened.
Please visit Action Fraud to find out what to do if you’re experiencing fraudulent activity and need to report a scammer online.