SCAMMER URBAN LEGENDS – Chapters 3 – It’s All About The Scammers
Originally published December 2017, updated September 2018
This article is about posting scammers – exposing them online. This is not the shame as reporting them. Reporting scammers is essential and it is making a differrence, here we are talking about posting photos online to shame or expose the scammers!
Posting Scammer Photos
One of the things you notice immediately with most “anti-scam” groups on Facebook or on their websites is how they post an endless stream of fake scammer photos, fake names, and fake profiles.
Why Do They Do That?
They do it (at least in part) because they believe it is the way to “EXPOSE SCAMMERS”
Every victim will tell you, that they want to “EXPOSE SCAMMERS”
Exposing Scammers Will Stop Scamming
Just ask any of these anti-scam groups or most victims.
Except for one little problem.
It Will Not Stop Scamming
In simple point of FACT, it has done almost NOTHING to stop scamming.
Countless groups have been using this “steamroller” approach to fight scams for more than a decade. We ourselves tried it for several years. It was just the thing everyone did, so it must work, right?
Except It Did Almost Nothing
Scamming has increased year over year since 1990 when online scamming became a thing. In fact in the period from 2008 through 2016, online fraud doubled EVERY YEAR!
What Is The “Stated” Purpose Behind Showing These Endless Faces?
The idea is a simple one. By displaying all of these fake faces, people will see them and not be scammed. Make sense?
No, It Doesn’t Because No One Sees Them Until It Is Too Late
People who are not yet a victim never look at these.
Because people do not believe they will ever be victims before they are victims, and are not paying attention to these before they get scammed. People only look for scammer information and at these displays AFTER they become a victim. You are only reading this article because you are already a victim or came close to it or have a friend or family member who is.
Is There Any Value?
Yes, there is but it is limited.
The first real value comes from being found in Google or Facebook searches. Meaning that if you are already a victim or at least suspect you are dealing with a scammer, these can help you confirm it – confirm that you are.
The second is more important than confirmation, and that is the disruption it causes. Meaning that by exposing them then reporting them, particularly to Facebook you can disrupt the scammer’s communication with their victims. This gives a number of victims a pause to consider what they are doing and hopefully wise up. But is Facebook scams are about 35% of the total of romance scams, and Facebook only takes down a few thousand a week, it is a small effort. However, it is worth it if it can save even a single victim.
The third is that there may be a therapeutic value in that reporting or exposing scammers gives them some small measure of control after they lost all control. However, this can also increase rage and hatred for scammers with negates any beneficial effect. It needs to be done in such a way as to provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment without the hate. We operate a group on Facebook specifically for this purpose: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RSN.Army/
They serve no other purpose for the victims other than these three.
The fact is that scammers create millions of fake identities a year – currently, over ONE BILLION fake identities are online. Far more than anyone can comprehensively catalog or report. Even with the thousands of reports SCARS/RSN gets a month, it is still just a drop in the bucket.
In a major way, it works against victims, because the scammers used to keep identities longer. Now they throw them away much more quickly. In fact, the large scammer organizations have whole departments dedicated to creating fake identities in quantity.
Why Does Almost Every Anti-Scam Group Do It Then?
Two simple reasons.
- They are not professionals in any form of law enforcement, nor have either forensic or criminalistics experience. They are also not psychological professionals, with any experience in crime victim counseling or behavior therapy. In other words, they are just victims that think by virtue of their experience as a victim, they are now qualified to show everyone else the way.
- It is what draws their audience to them. In other words, the secondary addiction that victims tend to fall for is the NEED to see scammers and feel like something is being done. It is a true placebo effect, and for some it is helpful, but for most it is harmful. But the victim is really just taking one obsession (the fairy tale relationship) and replacing it with another one.
Most of the groups that do this are not SCARS Members. SCARS Members focus on more effective means to support victims.
However, many of these other groups are really just about creating a following – in other words a flock – as in a cult. Charismatic Anti-Scam leaders look to ratchet their follower numbers up through the roof as their measure of dominance in the anti-scam space. It is a kind of competition. They desire control over the largest population of victims possible, regardless of the harm they are actually causing, because they either don’t know or care. Some of the “Scam Haters” groups are fully aware they are doing this, some are not.
You can see the manifestation of this in their rejection of established best practices and ethical standards. For example, SCARS fully adopted the NOVA Standards for Victims Assistance https://againstromancescams.org/code-of-professional-ethics-for-victim-assistance/, and a few of these groups completely rejected the idea that they had an obligation to protect the victims who were members of their groups. Some have been debarred for non-compliance with the SCARS Code of Conduct & NOVA Standard.
Crime victims’ assistance and support are regulated activities in most of the Western countries, it is just that these groups tend to believe they know better and reject the requirements, certifications, and standards that are required. SCARS fully adhere to these standards and requirements for itself and its members.
It’s A Marketing Tool Disguised As Meaningful Effort
As we said, the endless display of scammers and fake faces is really a marketing tool that anti-scam hate groups use to pull in victims and keep them dependent. The victims believe this works because they are told it does, so it is an endless loop of co-dependency. With the victim’s emotional health suffering as a result.
Why Do We Do It Then?
Yes, it is true that RSN has pages of scammers (but they are separated). We do it for a few reasons.
As you have seen on our pages, we are very focused on teaching awareness and avoidance skills and providing meaningful victims’ support. Our use and display of scammers are limited so that:
- We use limited examples, not an endless stream, in the context of awareness and avoidance education.
- We limit the number because a victim drowning in an endless stream of scammers is actually harmed – meaning the more you look at scammers the more lost and hopeless you will feel as a victim, especially in the early stages of your recovery.
- We limit their display because we follow sound strategies, tactics, and other means of changing how scammers are addressed. We work with governments around the world – the only people that can have an impact on global fraud. We partner with governments and law enforcement, dating websites, and others to bring about real change at the source.
- Photos and fake names are mostly useless because they are NOT hard data. They can’t be used to locate or identify a real scammer or cybercriminal. It takes the accumulation of hard data to eventually identify, watches for, and finally apprehend cybercriminals. Fake faces are a waste of time – mostly.
However, as said before we do have groups organized to report fakes to Facebook because we can at least be disruptive. We understand its value and how to manage it without adversely affecting the victims who volunteer to help.
But The Problem Is That Most Anti-Scam Groups Sold This As A Panacea
Victims have come to expect this, and if we do not do some of it, we reach fewer people and cannot share a more rational set of messages. It is a “Catch 22”.
What Really Matters
If you are a victim, you really should limit the amount of exposure you have to scammers and fake faces. You need to recover emotionally. Feeling you are part of a community is a major part of this, feeling that you are not alone is critical, but feeling like it never stops will not help.
In our support groups, we do not expose victims to endless photos and scammers, we focus on life and recovery, and on how each person is going to make it through the aftermath of the scam – not reliving it endlessly.
Many will disagree. Some hate us and accuse us of being incompetent because of this. But think it through.
You will come to the right conclusion. If you don’t, that is fine too.
We Help Those That We Can And Do Some Good In The Process
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- Your National Police or FBI (www.IC3.gov)
- The Scars Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
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Visit our NEW Main RSN Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/RSN.Main.News.And.Inromation.Home.Page
To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstRomanceScams.org
Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
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