SCAMMER URBAN LEGENDS – Chapter 7
Nothing Is Being Done?
We constantly hear from victims that say that no one is doing anything, or that nothing is being done!
Unfortunately, it can certainly seem that way.
But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most people believe that all crime is handled the way they see it on TV. You report it, and the police jump on it immediately. By the end of the episode, the criminals are found, arrested, tried in court, and sentenced.
Except that the real world doesn’t work like that.
First a reality check!
Most scammers do not live where you live – regardless of what their fake profiles say.
They live in Africa, Malaysia, Russia, and elsewhere. So by definition, they live in another country with their own laws and their own law enforcement – most of them are also very corrupt.
In most of the world, the process to get a criminal arrested in another country is extreme, then you have to deal with the extradition to a favorable country where the criminal can be tried. But scammers live in shit-hole countries where the rule of law can be bought for not very much money. In Ghana or Nigeria you can buy a cop for US$10 a month!
Additionally, in the case of West Africa, as long as they are not scamming local citizens their country really doesn’t care. Why should they waste resources arresting people when they actually need the cash flowing into their country?
This makes the vast majority of scammers immune from arrest and prosecution.
Of course, there are exceptions, but those are so few as to be almost nonexistent.
Second, do you even know who scammed you?
With over 400 million fake identities in use (per SCARS analysis 2017), it is rare that a victim knows the real identity of their scammers.
Notice we said scammers – plural – because most victims are scammed by teams of scammers. There will be multiple individuals communicating with the victim under one identity. Plus the scammers us others to pick up the money – either mules (a victim who is willingly helping a scammer, though many do not know it) or their agents in the money transfer services. The result is: it is very unlikely that you have the scammer’s name.
Who will the police arrest if you don’t have a real name?
Third, investigations on demand!
Most scam victims somehow believe that they will hand over a name and someone will immediately launch a full-scale global investigation to find who the scammer really is and where they are.
We receive over 150 such demands a day.
But think about that… Who will pay for all of that investigative work, across multiple borders in multiple countries?
Victims by an large, are unwilling to even report scammers, much less financially support investigations. Also, any investigative service or company that offers this for a fee is most likely a scammer themselves.
The FBI will do it, right?
It is true the national police forces do investigate crimes, but they only have the resources they have and are not able to chase down every possible report that is made.
What they do instead is accumulate information until they have enough to justify more action.
This is one of the keys to the SCARS Anti-Scam Data Reporting Network (www.Anyscam.com, www.RomanceScamsNow.com, and about 50 other reporting entry points – including the RSN Facebook pages). Information is collected and distributed to those that need it, and it is maintained permanently so that as more information comes in it can trigger investigations.
Every report matters, but not always at that moment.
Most victims do not even bother to report scammers, and those that do rarely have complete information. So it has to be aggregated into a massive database where it can be searched and cross-referenced to be made usable. This is how all law enforcement really works – data collection, data filtering and mining, and data reporting to produce a picture that can be understood and exploited.
Fourth, how do they get arrested?
There are two main enforcement models being employed now.
- Watch lists and apprehension: This means that the reports help provide background information when a scammer applies for visas or immigration approval. It also can be used at frontiers to hold a person that appears on a watch list. Currently, this is in its beginning stages for tracking scammers – is very advanced for terrorists, but global criminal data is evolving and being developed and needs much more cooperation and effort on the part of Western Countries. However, real progress is being made. Our network is a perfect example of that!
- Asset Seizures: while African countries do not want to arrest most scammers, they do value the money that scammers earn. Tax collectors in Africa and elsewhere have started to focus on going after the money and property that scammers acquire. This is far easier for local African prosecutors to bypass the police and just seize the money and property, shutting down a scammer and leaving them penniless and on the street. While this is not a perfect solution, it is very workable – especially when going after the largest of the scammer bosses – unless they are truly protected by their government – which many are.
However, many countries where scammers operate are very serious about arrests, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Western Countries, and even the Philippines.
China is also now recognizing the danger that scammers play, and almost monthly are shipping back Chinese scammers caught in other countries back to China to stand trial. China even signed an agreement of principals with SCARS in December 2017.
In the United States scammer mules are now being prosecuted as well, especially those that not only receive and launder money, but that also receive and reship merchandise purchased from stolen credit cards. Europe is also beginning to follow this model too. Of course, the rest of the world has always treated scammer mules as criminals.
Fifth, why isn’t it stopping?
Think about other kinds of crimes and how long it took to change society’s perception of these criminals! Rape, Drunk Driving, are just two that took more than a generation to change. Rape took nearly 100 years of criminal justice reform to create real change for victims and it is still far from perfect. Drunk Driving especially was a hard one – the laws already existed, they just needed to be consistently enforced. It took the creation of an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving, working tirelessly for a couple of decades to get us to the point that drunk driving is no longer tolerated.
The same is true for global online fraud.
In 1991 our organization began observing and tracking online fraud. We tried all the usual techniques – education and exposing scammers, but victims don’t believe it will happen to them until it does. Then it is too late.
In 2015 the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams [SCARS] (www.AgainstRomanceScams.org or www.AgainstScamc.org – both go to the same place) was founded by Dr. Tim McGuinness, a pioneer in ecommerce and co-founder of a multi-billion dollar online consumer electronics retailer.
The mission of SCARS is two-fold:
- Provide scam avoidance education and online crime victims assistance and support (registered under the United States Department of Justice).
- Serve as a victims advocate working with governments and law enforcement around the world to bring about new laws, regulations, policies and processes to create change, and enforce the rule of law.
Since its founding, there have been more than 100 news laws enacted in 15 countries.
In the United States, SCARS met with candidate Trump to obtain his commitment to help with this global crisis, and since his election, he has signed several new laws and 3 executive orders that are having a real impact.
Sixth, more needs to be done!
Unfortunately, there is too much aimless wasted effort in the anti-scam community. Too much is focused on hating scammers (and competing groups) and almost nothing on real changes.
SCARS is making a difference, and for the first time in 26 years, romance scams are down by 22% in 2017 – mostly by improved global enforcement, information sharing, and common cause. But this work is costly, and funds are limited for this work. Today, almost no major funding comes from government to fight global fraud except for within the existing policing agencies. Those same policing agencies are a part of the problem since they grossly underestimate the magnitude of the problem (mostly because victims do not report these crimes) and are thinking locally instead of globally – however, this is changing and will change more as time passes.
Of course, hearing that work is being down is little comfort if you are already a victim. However, this is the path we have to follow. Nothing this major happens overnight – this is not to excuse it, but it is just the reality.
SCARS and their members are working every day to bring this plague to an end. The more you support those efforts the more weight they can bring to bear on it. The more you hide from the reality of this, the more you are enabling scammers.
Next time you see someone saying “Nothing Is Being Done” remind them that there is progress but we are all in this together!
Every voice is important as long as we all sing the same song!
We hope you agree.
Please let us know what you think?
Miami Florida USA
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