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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.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. NEWS: Meet The Scammers [Video]

The Cybercriminals Breaking Hearts And Stealing Billions

“The criminals involved in this are definitely masters of manipulation. This is their job and they’re very good at it, and they’re very proud of being good at it.” Cyber scam expert.

Their voices are persuasive, their emails insistent and they have proven to be remarkably successful at conning countless people into handing over their money.

“When you have an appreciation for how big and sophisticated it is, this machine that’s behind it that’s targeting them, that’s where it sorts of tends to awaken one.” Police officer.

Internet scamming began in the early days of email with appeals from Nigerian ‘princes’ asking for help to regain their missing money. From those amateurish beginnings, the scammers watched, learned and refined their techniques. What started out as a simple scam from West Africa has now morphed into a global enterprise, conning people on an industrial scale.

“West African 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. is the biggest threat that we see on the internet today. It eclipses all the other threats that we’ve seen that are financially motivated.” Cybersecurity investigator.

On Monday Four Corners investigates how these 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. operate, uncovering an online marketplace where fake identities and criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. skills are bought and sold.

“They offer Facebook profiles for sale, they offer pictures of uniformed servicemen for sale, they offer the backstory and kind of how you get started.” Retired US army colonel.

Reporter Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop traveled to Ghana to meet the scammers and watch them at work.

“The best targets are people who are divorced or widowed.” 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..

At the heart of their business is the ‘romance scam’, where criminals, often posing as lovelorn US soldiers, convince their victims to send them money.

“Over the course of the last two years, I’ve reported over 3,000 accounts to Facebook of scammers using my pictures to steal money from women.” Retired US army colonel.

For some, the romance scam is just the start of the nightmare, with victims used to launder money or conned into trafficking drugs, with devastating consequences.

“When they opened it and tested it and told me what it was, I was in complete shock, complete shock.” Drug muleMule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes..

And there’s growing evidence that the scammers are not only targeting Australian victims, they’re