SCAMMER URBAN LEGENDS – Chapters 3 & 4
It’s All About The Scammers
CHAPTER THREE: 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 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 nothing.
Scamming has increased year over year since 1990 when online scamming became a thing. In fact in the period form 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.
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, a little. The only 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.
They serve no other purpose for the victims.
The fact is that scammers create millions of fake identities a year. Far more than anyone can comprehensively catalog. 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, 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 if 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 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 recently 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. One was even debarred from SCARS Membership for willfully exposing victim’s names to scammers so that they could more easily be found on Facebook.
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 adheres 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 groups use to pull in victims and keep them dependent. The victims believes 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 is 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, watch for, and finally apprehend cybercriminals. Fake faces are a waste of time – mostly.
But The Problem Is You Have Been 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.
On our websites, pages, and 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.