Editorial: What Are We To Do?
For over 26 years the scammers were gaining ground. In fact, scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. went up by at least 50% each and every year – in some years it doubled.
Let’s Be Very Clear
We Are In A War Against Online Scams!
Online scammers are able to operate with impunity throughout Africa, and in many other countries, without fear or prosecution. This War Against Online Scams leaves a million casualties a year (in 2016) – nearly 4,000,000 victims over the last 6 years (since 2010). By comparison only the war on drugs has produced this level of victimizationVictimization Victimization (or victimization) is the process of being victimized or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimization is called victimology.! Yet, most people are doing nothing but complain.
The Time To Complain Is Over!
Now is the time for action, not just clicking Like or calling names on Facebook.
We Are What We Repeatedly Do!
Our organization has been educating the world about scammers for 26 years, since 1991 in the days of the old AOL (American OnLine). We have reached millions, but education alone wasn’t doing enough to stop or even slow down the madness.
In 2015 our founder, and a group of educators and professionals, formed SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. (the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams) because a new direction was needed. Education about scams was failing and no one was doing anything other than just cataloging endless scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. stolen photos and their insane messages. Yes, it did help people who were already victims confirm that they had been scammed, but did nothing – absolutely nothing – to reduce the number of scammers and the impact that they have on the public around the world. The scammers simply adapted, became smarter, more professional and systematic, and victimized greater numbers than ever before.
Most of the so-called anti-scammers do nothing but present their personal rageRage Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. and incompetent opinions about how scammers work and organize the world over. The victims who flock to them are mislead about the true state of global cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. and the directions needed to combat it. The victims who follow them are endlessly trapped in the frustration of uselessness, and worthless misdirection.
As we became more public in our efforts to find new solutions and directions, we have been ruthlessly attacked by the scammers and their sympathizers (which we expected), and by other anti-scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. pretenders afraid of losing their grip on their audiences. This has been attacks on our personnel and their families online. Attacks on the businesses that have supported and funded us. Even to the point of threats of violence against us and our families. However, none of this has deterred us.
In the development of effective counter measures we have formed partner relationships with social media and contributed to the United States Government’s efforts to both understand the scope of the problem, and to evolve their policies to counter the ever growing threat of cybercriminals.
We have provided policy statements and position documents leading to new directions for the U.S. Department of Justice which is showing results in apprehending orders of magnitude more fraudsters in West Africa and around the world. We reached out to the candidates in the last U.S. Presidential election, but only one candidate responded, and from that response it has resulted in two Presidential Executive OrdersExecutive Order An executive order is a directive from the President that has much of the same power as a federal law. Several landmark moments in American history came about directly from the use of executive orders issued from the United States President’s desk, including one Supreme Court decision that limited a presidential executive order issued by Harry Truman. directly addressing online fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. and deception crimes (that is two more than in the previous 8 years). In addition we have worked to help support the Sextortion law that was drafted and passed in 2016, and a new law making its way through congress now. We are a lawful registered Victims’ Assistance & Support organization by the United States Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime and their initiatives. We are also a partner of the United States Department of Homeland SecurityDepartment of Homeland Security The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. federal executive department (under the President) responsible for public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cybersecurity, and disaster prevention and management. for their online crime initiatives, such as the Stop Think and Connect program.
While victims focus their attention on anyone that posts endless scammer photos – they are ignoring what is needed and the means to make real change.
As an organization, we are alone out here trying to help with viable new directions. We are trying to do this in a way the brings lasting and fundamental change.
Doing this is hard, not just hard work but also the toll that it take on everyone involved. It takes a real commitment to the future. It takes more than name calling on Facebook to create the change that is needed and be able to sustain it. We need to refocus on what works and ignore what doesn’t work. Each person reading this Editorial needs to understand this, and express their outrage in a productive way.
It starts by supporting the ONLY organization that is working to produce real change – by joining SCARS (www.AgainstScams.org). It costs you nothing – it’s free. By adding your name to their membership roles you increase the influence of SCARS in the minds of governments around the world. It is a small thing, but from individual grains of sand are continents built.
Things Are Getting Better
- In 2017, for the first time in 26 years we have seen a decrease in the number of new scam victims compared to 2016. We estimate that the decrease is between 20 to 25%.
- In 2017, we see a dramatic increase in press reporting about all forms of cybercrime.
- In 2017, we have seen an increase in the number of fraudsters arrested from just a handful in 2016 to more than 3 a day in 2017 (worldwide). More and more countries are making significant commitments to address scamming inside their own borders. Unfortunately that really does not include Africa (except countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco).
Unfortunately, we have also seen the connection between scams and terrorism growing, especially in West/Central African states centered on Nigeria & Kenya. This complicates the ability to use sanctions against the scammer nations. The side effects of this are also a significant rise in human trafficking and slavery in these same countries. At the center of the scamming plague is a fundamental national corruption that permeates their societies. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Rwanda. Even South Africa is falling victim to the anti-colonialism insanity that provided the root morality that scammers use to justify their acts – it is only fair because they were mistreated in the past – so the West deserves to be the victim now.
Romance Scams are a very personal assault, from which victims need significant time to recover. In some cases (no one knows what the percentage actually is), some will never recover and remain changed forever. People give away their every last cent, losing houses, marriages, friends and families – choosing to believe the fantasy instead of reason, and then after it is too late are left with nothing and no one. Yet they continue to believe the next charlatan they encounter, who claims they will get their money back or will punish the scammer for them by exposing more photos. From one scam to another scam. Some will take their own lives because they cannot face what has happened to them – in fact, approximately every 4 hours a victims takes their own life.
These are the things we see every minute of every day.
These are the reasons we spend our talent and treasure to help the world become a better place. Mostly doing this alone, with a small number of supporters, volunteers, team members, and the businesses that fund our operations. Working against scammers, hateful other individuals, and indifferent governments around the world is the environment we work in. We are labeled everything imaginable, and even our own children are attacked for this. Yet progress is being made, month after month.
Instead of recognizing the need for pragmatic change, we see most victims hide from the truth or engage in the endless futility of scammer watching or baiting. This is about changing the attitudes of victims as much as it is about combating scammers. It really is up to each of us to make the world a better place. Yes, there are thousands, if not millions, of distractions – but this need is crystal clear. When it comes to scams, Hope is a four letter word.
- The endless exposing of scammers is doing nothing.
- The endless scam baitingScam Baiting A foolish activity where a victim or nonvictim engages in deception and fraud to lead on a scammer into revealing information or for the sport of it. Deliberate deception online, regardless of the reason, is both unethical and in many places may also be illegal. While not prosecuted, Scambaiting has no legitimate benefit and should never be performed by victims since it is an act of revenge and only amplifies trauma. It is a reprehensible practice that is popularized by amateur anti-scam groups driven by their hate for fraudsters. Learn more: SCARS Position Statement Against Scambaiting is doing nothing.
- The endless rage is doing nothing.
- The endless complaining and name calling is doing nothing.
Don’t be confused – this is not about a lack of compassion for victims. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Real compassion is not suggesting to victims that exposing yet another stolen photo is doing something. Real compassion is helping victims recover and move on, not forcing stolen fake faces on them endlessly. It is also about helping victims create meaningful change to help prevent or reduce future predatory victimization that could be their family or friends.
In summary, the only way to turn this situation around is coordinated real-world strategies that combat scammers where they live and work, by both helping and forcing governments to take real measures to address the root causes and corruptions that enable the global cybercriminal organizations to live in immunity and hide in plain sight. It is demonstrating to government that we will not tolerate this any longer. This is not done through meaningless petitions that don’t actually affect politicians or get their notice. It is done by affecting politician’s ability to be re-elected country by country, and this means a significant advocacy and policy group that can appeal to politicians sense of self-preservation and fear of defeat.
While this may have sounded a bit like a rant, it is really an appeal to help you understand what is at stake, and how your individual voice can add to these efforts for real change.
This change will not happen by joining a scammer exposure group on Facebook run by a guy in Russia or a woman in England, or a couple in Australia alone in their bedroom or kitchen. It will not happen by exposing stolen photos on social media. It will not come by clicking likes or making faces, or calling names. It will only happen through organization, the development of working relationships with national governments that have the power to impact scammers, expanding public communications that can reach people before they become victims, and budgets capable of supporting all of these activities.
If you really want to help and create change, your next step should be to join SCARS (at no cost), and then in the months to come work with SCARS to create local chapters to positively affect the hearts and minds of your government, law enforcement, and politicians. Plus, who knows what the traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. of a scam is like better than a scam survivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com like you? You can help SCARS in the development of victims’ assistance initiatives in your own country as a local SCARS Chapter too.
Do you really want to see a change?
What will it be?
More useless complaints or real action?
It Is Up To You To Act Against Scams™