Resources about Scams and Amygdala Hijack

If you have been scammed, get help.

If you don't feel safe following the links, I am trying to provide enough info for you to do you own search to locate these resources.

Not a bad practice to follow!

I have stopped clicking on any links in emails from banks and companies, even those I am dealing with on a regular basis, and I am simply accessing my accounts on my own to see if there are any important messages waiting for me.

I am sharing a service about the emotional impact of scams that I led at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County on April 28, 2024 here: 

The live stream I did with Brad Yates is here: search YouTube: Tapping Through Scams (with Penny & Brad) or link:


Scam alert videos:

--search SSA Scam awareness, or visit the official social security page for more info:

I am sharing my story on an amazon platform for both my safety and the readers:

Understanding the trauma

AARP: Many Victims Struggle With Mental Health in Scams’ Aftermath

(They offer free group therapy sessions online.)

Two-thirds of scam victims in a 2015 FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) survey reported experiencing negative emotional consequences specifically as a result of the fraud. “That ranged from severe anxiety, to sleep disorders, depression, PTSD,” says Christine Kieffer, senior director at the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. “So these are real trauma symptoms.”

Nearly half (47 percent) of the FINRA survey respondents blamed themselves for the crime; 61 percent said they were too trusting. A majority reported feeling angry, regretful, betrayed, helpless and embarrassed.

Amygdala Hijack, the method used to scam people, is like having a gun to (in) your head.

This kind of mental attack is just as bad and just as serious and just as impossible to free yourself from as is a physical assault. That is hard to understand, but that is the message we need to share, so people stop being too ashamed to get help. If you haven't experienced it, it seems implausible. And if you have but don't understand it, you may think you are going crazy.

If you or someone you know has been scammed and experienced amygdala hijack, please share these resources:


How Amygdala Hijack works, TED Talk: How phishing scammers manipulate your amygdala and oxytocin | Christopher Hadnagy


Getting help:

The AARP offers free group therapy for victims of scams, as well as lots of informational resources.


7 Tactics Criminals Use to Perpetrate Fraud

AARP Free Group Therapy for victims of fraud

Lifepaths: The Emotional Impact of Fraud and Scams

Do You Want to Support Someone Who Has Been Scammed?

The following five ideas are about how family and friends can help a person who has been scammed. These can be helpful to both family and friends AND a person who has been the victim of fraud or a scam. If you are someone who has been scammed, think about who in your support system can do this. Know that you need these things. And, know that you can do these things for yourself, too.

Listen and empathize without judgment. Offering a shoulder to cry on is a no-brainer. But it’s important to listen and empathize without judging this person. He is probably already judging himself and beating himself up worse than you ever could, and it is a priceless gift to have someone to talk to who will not judge you for a mistake. People who have been scammed could always use someone to listen without judgment while they process what has happened and figure out how they go forward.

Don’t say...

“What were you thinking?”

“How could you be fooled by that?”

“I would never have fallen for that.”

“Everybody knows about that scam.”

(I find that even hearing, "I am so sorry you fell for the scam," is really tough to process without getting activated to hold a speech about how I didn't FALL for it...When I am activated, I try to get the person who still doesn't "get" it to watch some of the TED talk and scientific videos. )


Healthline: Amygdala Hijack: When Emotion Takes Over

Fight or flight

The amygdalae are clusters of almond-shaped cells located in the brain’s base. Everyone has two in each hemisphere. They define and regulate emotions, store memories, and attach those memories to specific emotions.

The amygdala also activates the fight-or-flight response. This response can help people in immediate physical danger react quickly for their safety and security. For example, the fight-or-flight response helped early humans respond to threats to avoid injury or death.

The amygdala activates this fight-or-flight response without any initiative from you. When that part of your brain senses danger, it signals your brain to pump stress hormones, preparing your body to either fight for survival or to flee to safety.

Today, that fight-or-flight response is more likely to be triggered by emotions such as stress, fear, anxiety, aggression, and anger.


TD Stories: How to Heal from the High Emotional Costs of Financial Scams

There are millions of victims of financial fraud every year – and the problem is getting worse. Yet, because financial fraud normally occurs out of public view, many victims feel isolated and ashamed. The United States Department of Justice estimates that only 15% of victims of financial fraud report the crime because they are embarrassed, feel guilty or think nothing can be done.

It’s typical for victims of financial fraud to experience all these emotions according to Dr. Traci Williams, a board-certified psychologist and certified financial therapist. She adds that victims may also feel angry, violated, anxious, shocked, sad, and hopeless. Moreover, even a small loss can have a profound impact on victims.

“How [financial fraud] impacts you isn’t necessarily tied to how much money is lost,” explains Dr. Williams. Many victims of financial fraud are “tech savvy and very intelligent” so no one is immune.


How the Amygdala Works, by Sense of Mind (really good introductory youtube video explaining how it works)


Tools to help with recovery

EFT Tapping Videos

I have asked Brad Yates to consider making one explicitly for being scammed and one for preventing being scammed when in the moment. But these helped. You can always add the emotions you are feeling to the words you say.

Tappig out of feeling stupid

Feeling used

Feeling shame


Reports about others who were scammed (still haven't found any that didn't leave the reader (and the person who was scammed) thinking that they made bad "rational" decisions that led to the scam.

CNBC: PERSONAL FINANCE How this 77-year-old widow lost $661,000 in a common tech scam: ‘I realized I had been defrauded of everything’

Washington Post: A former White House scientist was scammed out of $655,000. Then came the IRS.

TODAY SHOW: Andy Cohen recounts scam