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Reporting Romance Scams: Why Survivors Often Don’t

By the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, Inc. January 15, 2018 ©

Introduction

Why is it that not all romance scams survivors find it necessary to report scams?

After all, a romance scam is truly an emotional assault, a form of rape!

Why don’t they report them to the criminal justice system in order to move forward from their experience? In fact, some feel that the criminal justice system really re-victimizes them in its process. Some survivors find that the services provided by the police are openly hostile to scam victims in many cases, and online support are the only services they feel comfortable pursuing.

This really means that most of these crimes are unknown to governments and they feel little pressure to do very much about it.

While measuring rates of the emotional violence from scams can be difficult, there is no uncertainty in the national data (compiled by SCARS) that the majority of romance scams are never reported to police and government.

It is believed that only 3 to 5% of romance scams are ever reported.

Contrast that with 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police (at least in the United States)(according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics).

A survivor’s relationship with the scam offender has a strong effect on the likelihood of reporting. Since most romance scams are not perpetrated by a real identity, and because in most cases the scam relationship was kept secret, the scam victims tend to hide the crime once discovered.

Whereas with rape/sexual assault survivors it depends more on the relationship:

  • When a rape or sexual assault offender is an intimate partner or former intimate partner, only 25 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.
  • When an offender is a friend or acquaintance, only 18 to 40 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
  • When an offender is a stranger, between 46 and 66 percent of sexual assaults are reported.

With romance scam victims it tends to depend upon the emotional attachment to the scammer (fake identity), then duration of the scam, and the financial losses.

Sexual Assault Survivors cite the following reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:

  • Fear of reprisal
  • Personal matter / Did not want family to know / Did not want others to know
  • Reported to a different official
  • Not important enough to respondent
  • Belief that the police would not do anything to help
  • Belief that the police could not do anything to help
  • Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
  • Not enough proof / Fear of lack of evidence
  • Fear of the justice system
  • Did not know how
  • Feel the crime was not “serious enough”
  • Unsure about perpetrator’s intent

We see very similar reasons for not reporting romance scams:

  • Fear of reprisal / threats made by the scammer
  • Personal matter / Did not want family to know / Did not want others to know / it is private and the victim is ashamed
  • Reported to a different official / posting information uselessly online
  • Not important enough to respondent / the victim did not lose money
  • Belief that the police would not do anything to help
  • Belief that the police could not do anything to help
  • Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
  • Not enough proof / Did not keep proof / Fear of lack of evidence
  • Fear of the justice system / May have past criminal history
  • Did not know how / or confused about the process
  • Feel the crime was not “serious enough” / especially true when no monetary loss
  • Unsure about perpetrator’s identity

In both cases – romance scams and sexual assault crimes, the crime is a significant traumatic experience that can initially place the victim in shock.

Due partially to low reporting rates, only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted. Only 5 percent of cases lead to a felony conviction for sexual assault. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent of rapists will walk free.

Now contrast that with Romance Scams where less than 0.00001% result in arrests – due mainly to the transnational nature of romance scams, and the inability of governments to cross borders after online offenders. Yet with the right laws and motivation, governments could actually have vast arrest rates regardless of where the scammers are!

What do we do to change these numbers? To get more survivors to report the crimes that had such a negative impact on their lives?

It took generations to change the mindset of sexual assault survivors, so that they felt empowered to report their crimes, and to change the mentality of the criminal justice system to look at rape for what it truly was – an assault. Now we must do the same for the victims of romance scams / online emotional rape. We need to empower them to come forward and change the perception in law enforcement that this was a voluntary crime – it was not – it was an involuntary manipulation.

However, that change with sexual assaults was not overnight, and took the efforts of thousands of advocates working together in each of the localities and countries to change this. Most of the anti-scam advocates are amateurish, uninformed, and focused on their rage or wasted gestures.

Posting scammers to expose and shame then is mostly a wasted effort at reducing the incidence of this insidious crime. Governments have to play the largest role in this, and that means we have to work in unison to coordinate with governments, both to support and educate THEM (that means reporting), and apply proper political pressure for the legal and enforcement changes that are needed.

Victims cannot hide anymore, their voices are too important to waste in silence, or on useless scammer exposing.

Scamming is a giant global business, right up there with drugs and human trafficking. It will take transnational non-governmental organizations (like SCARS) working hand in glove with governments around the world to slow it.

If you are reading this, the odds are high you are a victim. Why not become a survivor and do something about this?
We ask you to join our ranks and become a SCARS Member (www.AgainstScams.org) because in the next few months we will be transitioning to local chapters and aiding you in the ways to change governments around the world, but it starts with adding your voice and standing up against romance scams in a meaningful way!

Will you do it?

Every voice counts!

Also, please please report every scammer on our worldwide network here or at www.Anyscam.com

We all need to Act Against Scams!

Tim McGuinness, Ph.D.
Chairman, Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, Inc. [SCARS]
Doral (Miami), Florida, USA
www.AgainstScams.org

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SCARS|EDUCATION™ RomanceScamsNow.com™ is the official knowledge and victims' support publication of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams™ Incorporated [SCARS]™ It is edited and published by the SCARS Team. Contact@AgainstScams.org SCARS is the world's leading anti-scam charitable nonprofit nongovernmental organization, based in Miami Florida U.S.A. Its founder has been involved in combating online fraud since 1991. SCARS™ - the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. is a charitable nonprofit nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to advocating victim's causes and changing government and law enforcement attitudes toward online fraud for good! Please join us in becoming a member of SCARS - it's free! Add your voice so that the world will listen at last - just go to www.AgainstScams.org. The SCARS|RSN website and all of our publications (including social media) are maintained by our own staff employees and volunteers to provide you the most up to date information about scams & scammers from around the world. We show you how to avoid them or recover from them. SCARS is the only registered online crime victims' assistance & support organization in the world. Be sure to report scammers here. Also, visit our main Facebook page for more information about romance scams.