Victims Being Arrested Are Escalating
In the United States, thousands of scam victims and money mules are now being arrested every year!
To be sure, not every or even most scam victims are at risk. Here are some of the criteria that might lead to a law enforcement arrest:
- Money Mules
- Keeping a percentage of the money flowing through the money mule’s accounts – regardless of what the reason was, it may appear that the money mule is profiting and participating in the crimes.
- If the money mule does not stop when notified by the police that they are involved in a criminal activity, even if they were unaware by not heading the demands of the police they may become responsible.
- Depositing bad/fake checks and withdrawing the money before the check formally clears – this can be considered check or bank fraud.
- Forwarding money to a terrorist organization, or a transnational criminal syndicate that is a front for a terrorist organization.
- Money laundering – almost all money mules engage in this by definition.
- Wire fraud – as a part of one or more of those above.
- Drug trafficking – victims do visit locations requested by the criminals (as a victim, believing they are meeting their romantic partner), but are often asked to carry something back to their country or another country. Many times these are drugs or other contraband. This turns them into a drug mule!
- Scam Victims
- Who borrowed or obtained money from others under false pretenses – if the other person files a criminal complaint for fraud.
- Depositing bad/fake checks and withdrawing the money before the check formally clears – this can be considered check or bank fraud – this may not be for the benefit of the scammer, but it might be as a repayment by the criminals – check fraud is a serious crime.
- Sending money to a terrorist organization, or a transnational criminal syndicate that is a front for a terrorist organization.
- Victims visiting their romantic partner in the criminal’s country can often result in dangerous situations, such as kidnapping, or worse. But it can also involve the victim in the criminal’s activities unknowingly in a foreign country.
All of the above have resulted in victims/money mules being arrested and in most cases convicted and imprisoned.
Reporting Always Matters
The best way to avoid complications is to make sure that every victim reports these crimes immediately to their local police – local before national. This is important to establish your declaration that you are an innocent victim.
Most victims do not realize how precarious their situation might be if they do not report the crime. By not reporting it might appear that the victim is aiding and supporting the criminals. Nothing is hidden, eventually, law enforcement will find out. It is always better to take control of the situation by reporting the crime first.
Important considerations for reporting to your local police:
- If you were involved in any of the above, we strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with a licensed attorney first.
- Report to your local police first and obtain the report or incident number as your proof that you did, you may need this! Visit reporting.AgainstScams.org for more reporting information.
- Your report does not have to be perfect or complete, but honestly disclose any money you sent and received or other ways you may have helped the criminals.
- You can have your attorney prepare your statement and/or go with you to the police if you want.
If A Victim/Money Mule Is Arrested & Prosecuted
This is the worst-case scenario, but it does happen. However, if you have reported everything and followed the police’s instructions you should be ok – however, consulting an attorney when you are a victim of a crime is never a bad idea.
Prosecutions can be done on the state/provincial level or at the federal/national level. It is very important to understand what you are charged with and obtain the proper attorney for the kind of case. Not every attorney has experience with the specific laws that may be involved, so be sure to include this information when interviewing attorneys.
Victims will not like this label, but they may well have been (under the eyes of the law) temporarily insane. This may be a defense strategy that you can use – however, discuss this with your attorney.
In the view of SCARS, victims are not to blame for their actions as a part of relationship scams. They were expertly lured, groomed, manipulated, and controlled. Their emotions were hijacked and susceptible to the will of the criminals. However, this is hard for people that do not know much about these crimes to understand.
Therefore the Temporary Insanity Defense might be an option
According to Cornel Law School:
In a criminal trial, temporary insanity is a defense that can be raised to assert that, at the time of the commission of the offense, the defendant, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature or wrongfulness of the defendant’s acts. This defense is commonly used to contest the specific intent or mens rea required for certain offenses.
In some jurisdictions, courts do not differentiate between the temporary insanity defense and the traditional insanity defense, recognizing that insanity at the time of the offense is sufficient to raise a defense. For example, Colorado has asserted that “a defendant who was found to be legally insane at the time of the offense, but shortly thereafter regains sanity, may assert insanity as an affirmative defense.”
While jurisdictions differ in the requirements to demonstrate temporary insanity, the Supreme Court of Iowa has offered a representative standard, stating that:
“In order to be an excuse and defense for a criminal act, the person accused, and who claims [temporary] insanity as a defense, must prove that the crime charged was caused by mental disease or unsoundness which dethroned, overcame, or swayed her reason and judgment with respect to that act, which destroyed her power rationally to comprehend the nature and consequences of that act.”
Temporary insanity is often tied to intoxication, and courts have recognized intoxication as valid grounds to assert the defense. For example, Texas courts have held that while voluntary intoxication cannot excuse a crime, if the use of alcohol produces a state of mind that renders a defendant incapable of knowing the act that he is doing is wrong and criminal, then temporary insanity can be asserted to reduce the resulting penalty. Similarly, California has held that voluntary intoxication may establish temporary insanity as a partial defense to a criminal charge.
Lastly, jurisdictions like Florida, Arkansas, and Kentucky reject assertions of temporary insanity on the basis of extreme emotion, anger, and passion. Nonetheless, offenses committed under extreme emotional distress may still qualify for defenses such as crime of passion and extreme emotional distress.
Source: temporary insanity | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)
It should be noted that the above applies in state cases, and federal cases may have different criteria. This is why it is so important to discuss each situation with an attorney,
According to LawInfo:
TEMPORARY INSANITY 101
A defense of “temporary insanity” is equally difficult to prove. If a defendant asserts temporary insanity as a defense, they are claiming that:
- They were legally insane at the time of the alleged crime
- They are lawfully sane now
Most states use one of the following four methods to determine temporary insanity:
- The M’Naghten Rule (sometimes called the right-wrong test): reviews mental defects that lead someone to believe in the rightness of their crime
- The Irresistible Impulse Test: reviews someone’s awareness and willpower that led to the crime
- The Model Penal Code Test (also called the substantial capacity test): reviews the person’s lack of ability to follow the law or see that a crime is wrong
- The Durham Rule (only used in New Hampshire): reviews the mental defect (such as paranoia) that caused the criminal conduct
If a court accepts the proof of temporary insanity and finds you not guilty, you are not likely to face time in a psychiatric facility.
The temporary insanity defense is rare. It is typically used for circumstances where events leading up to the criminal act had a direct impact on the commission of the crime itself.
Common examples include:
- Victims of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse
- Family members seeking revenge for their victimized loved one
- Victims of cults or other psychological tactics
- People with unmedicated paranoid schizophrenia
INSANITY PLEAS IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM
The successful use of the insanity defense may be rare. However, its existence provides a critical moral check on the legal system.
It allows the law to enforce treatment, rather than punishment, on people who can’t understand their actions. Some people believe the insanity plea helps innocent victims of horrible circumstances and offers rehabilitation and a second chance to offenders.
Because these cases are complex, using an insanity defense is something that you should only attempt with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney will be able to examine your situation and help you determine whether this is actually the best option for mounting a defense.
Source: What Is the Insanity Defense | LawInfo
Just remember that this may or may not apply in your jurisdiction.
Our purpose in writing this article is not to assume what will happen to any specific victim or money mule, but rather to present information that can be helpful in understanding the consequences that can happen in a specific set of cases.
Most scam victims and money mules, if they have done the right thing and reported the crime have nothing to fear. But again, it is always advisable to speak with an attorney to be sure.
Remember, always report these crimes. If you did not report immediately, then do it now. Even if a year or more has passed you need to report it. Plus it might still be possible to recover some money, as in the case of cryptocurrency.
However, if a victim or money mule has been arrested, then we hope that the above information will prove useful!
Remember, if you are a victim, you are not alone. We are here to help you learn and understand what happened to you, and to support you emotionally through your recovery process, You can start right now by signing up for our free, confidential, professionally facilitated support & recovery groups by visiting support.AgainstScams.org