Reporting Scammers – How To Tell Your Story To Your Local Police!

Reporting Scammers – How To Tell Your Story To Your Local Police!

An excerpt from our upcoming 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. Gold Book on Telling Your Story

A SCARS Guide

Telling The Police

In The Very Beginning, You Must Report This Crime

Telling the local police becomes your first real experience with telling your story.

You are going to be facing another real person and will have to find the courage, the clarity, and the emotional control to be able to share the details of this crime without breaking down too much. This is not easy.

It begins with your initial preparation of the facts.

DECIDING WHAT IS IMPORTANT

One of the problems that most victims face is that they do not know what is realistic when initially speaking with the police or government agencies. They also do not know what is important to the police.

After a 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. you are shocked and confused, maybe even afraid, so you don’t know how to begin or what to do or say.

Before you talk to the police start collecting the evidence – because that is what it is. It is evidence of a crime, and online crimes are real crimes!

GETTING ORGANIZED

Before you go further, SCARS Publishes a complete scam victim organizer to help you gather your evidence together – both for yourself and for the police – you can see the SCARS RED BOOK at shop.AgainstScams.org

DIGITAL FOLDER

You will need to create a digital folder on your computer (if you have one.) If this all happened on your phone then you will have to preserve the information in another way.

Save all files and photos into the laptop folder to preserve it for the police if they need it, and also so that it is hidden away and out of your sight so that you are not constantly reminded of the pain. Put everything you can find in there and be as complete as possible.

ON YOUR PHONE

If all you used was your phone, you still need to preserve the important parts. There are tricks that help you preserve information in an out-of-the-way place for later use.

One of those tricks is to send YOURSELF messages – either texts, or on Facebook Messenger – a message from yourself to yourself, and include what you need to keep. Another is to email it to yourself.

PAPER FOLDER

We also recommend that you print what is possible and save it in a paper file folder. This is usually easier to present to the police.

Especially try to print out the receipts for bank and money transfer transactions, since these are the most important for the police to have.

THINGS TO KEEP

You should keep all relevant information about the 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. – it is a crime and the evidence might be needed at some point.

  • All hard data – banking, money, email, phone, contact info
  • All 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. stories – the chats and the dialog – you can copy from most messengers and put it all in a word or text file- only because there may be some details you missed.
  • All transactional documents – documents received from the fraudsterFraudster 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., documents for money transactions, other related documents
    Photos, videos, media, etc. – if the scammer sent it to you, keep a copy in your folders for potential future use or in reporting.

NOTE: We recommend that you blockBlock Blocking is a technical action usually on social media or messaging platforms that restricts or bans another profile from seeing or communicating with your profile. To block someone on social media, you can usually go to their profile and select it from a list of options - often labeled or identified with three dots ••• and cut off all contact with your scammers and any new strangers, but it is important to collect your evidence before you do that – if you can.

CRIME SUMMARY

Before you can start to tell your story, you have to start by collecting all relevant documentation concerning the fraud in one file that is kept in a secure location.

Then summarize the important parts (not all the dialog or chats, but the core facts that the police will need.) You can create this as a digital file or even handwritten on paper – but be neat and organized.

You can use the SCARS RED BOOK specifically designed for this (available on our SCARS Store http://shop.againstscams.org) if you want or do it manually.

CONTACT SHEET

Create a contact sheet of:

  • The perpetrator’s (scammer’s) name(s)
  • Physical addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Website addresses
  • IP addresses
  • As well as any of the fraudster’s purported other identification information
  • Any others involved: fake lawyer, fake military, fake family – and their contact info

Most victims are not very well organized and it makes it very frustrating for you to tell your story and for the police to understand it.

TIMELINE

A big part of getting your story right is being accurate and precise about your timeline.

Create a timeline of major events, which must span the complete crime from beginning to the present:

  • List significant events in the course of the scam – began, discovery, money transfers/gift card purchases
  • Your actions – money received, loans taken out, money borrowed
  • Any important actions by the scammer(s)

The police will probably not need the transcript of your chats or dialog – it will just get in the way since almost every word was a lie anyway. However, a timeline helps them really understand what happened.

Remember, 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. erases memory, so recreating the timeline will help you to better remember events so you can tell your story.

THE MONEY

The money you lost is a major part of your story.

This is what will have a big impact on you—it is what will cause you to be angry and blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. yourself.

Create a summary of the money or finances involved:

  • Money you sent to the scammer(s) – receipts, amounts, who sent to, how sent
  • Money you may have received from anyone that might be connected – who from, amounts, how received
  • Did you give any financial information to the scammers – what?
  • Did you give access to banking or other accounts to the scammer? What & where
  • Was any money sent to anyone in your same country?

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

When you tell your story to the police it is important to know that you have rights as a crime victim. Knowing this also helps you direct your story in ways that can help the police support your rights.

You have rights imparted by the government and law. Learn about your rights to better prepare yourself.

For United States federal victim rights (and many other countries have similar laws,) the U.S. Department of Justice provides information on victim rights at https://www.justice.gov/usao/resources/crime-victims-rights-ombudsman

For state victim rights, check with your state Attorney General, whose contact information is available at www.naag.org

If not in the United States do a Google Search for “crime victims’ rights” for your country.

PREPARING TO GO TO THE POLICE

Before running into the police station you need to be prepared or your story will come out wrong.

When this happens you will be frustrated, maybe even angry—angry with the police and yourself.

Before you go and file a 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. complaint with your local police there are things you will need to know to properly set your expectations.

Gather together your evidence and make sure you have your timeline and money records, and the rest of your story is well organized, that is what they will be most interested in.

EXPECTATIONS

Understand that the police will not rush out and go to Nigeria or Ghana and arrest the scammers—no matter how well you tell your story. But that report really matters because only about 1% of victims report these crimes, so governments have no real idea how many of these happen.

They will also, in most cases, not be able to recover your money.

But if you sent money to someone in your country (such as the U.S. you need to make that very clear.)

The police are not interested in all the chats or the things the scammer promised you – they were all lies and of no importance in the crime at this point—even though they are important to you and your story—remember that.

They matter to you, but they are not factual. If the scammer is ever arrested, then they will matter.

Understand that you have only two objectives when going to the police and telling them the version of your story they need to hear:

  1. Reporting a crime and getting the police report number, since certain benefits come from that
  2. Regaining control in your life by confronting your fears and doing your duty

When you walk out of the police, you will not have any closure nor specific satisfaction – it just does not work that way – but it is important

YOUR ATTITUDE

When you contact the police, make sure you physically go into their station to make the report.

This is both important for your own psychology and to assure that the report gets taken. Also, it helps the police officers to see you so they can offer some support—maybe not as much as you would like—but they will see you as human.

Do not expect anything from the police – but make sure that when you talk to them you use the word “fraud” and NOT “scam.”

Fraud is a more comfortable term for them and in truth, they are the same thing. Police organizations have 300 years of experience with that term—remember words matter throughout these processes.

They are the first responders and all other reporting will depend on their report first. State or national 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. units will receive their reports and become involved if there is something they can do, you also need this report for banking and other places that need the report number, such as for benefits or other services.

Do not go in in a panic, they are not going to save you!

However, if you really are afraid, then be sure to ask the police how to obtain a protection order as well.

DO NOT GO IN ANGRY

If you are hostile with them you will get no results and only be more upset when you leave. They may respond in kind and it makes the whole process even more traumatizing,

Do not try to hide any information!

You have nothing to be ashamed of – you are the victim of a crime.

Do not expect that they will do anything!

Their job is not to leave your town and chase after scammers around the world, but once you have the report number then other doors open for you.

SUPPORT

Ask a friend or family member to go with you, but be sure they understand that this is your story and to let you do all the talking.

You do not have to tell them much in advance (the friend), just that you were scammed. But having someone with you will help you make it through this and support you afterward.

TALKING WITH THE POLICE – FILING THE REPORT

First, understand that very few police understand relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? – they may not be able to understand how the manipulation works and they may think you are mostly to blame – that does not matter.

You are there for ONE PURPOSE – to tell them your story and file a report, because that report matters!

When you go in, tell them you want to file a complaint for fraud, and ask if you can speak with a fraud detective (if possible.)

If you are a woman, you can also ask to speak with a woman detective.

MAKE SURE: You get the name and badge number of the officer that takes the report – write it down.

They will likely give you a form to fill in, or they may take the report orally. Be sure you start with just the basics:

You were defrauded – You lost money – tell them how much and how it was sent

You have information – ask them what they would like to know

If you sent money to someone in your own country (such as a 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.) tell them that clearly, and that you suspect it was an “accomplice”

Give them any information they ask for, no matter how embarrassing – you have nothing to be ashamed of and you are not to blame.

This is your story, tell it with pride!

Next, before you leave, ask them to refer the case to the state or national cybercrime unit – every state in the U.S. has one, most countries have one too.

MAKE SURE: you do not leave without getting a report number.

If the officer objects to taking a report, ask to speak with the “Watch Commander,” Police Chief, or Sherriff. Do not accept no for an answer – but do not be hostile or nothing will happen for you.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

If they give you attitude, then just say “Imagine if this was your mother sitting here, would you treat her this way?”

If they object, tell them you need it for your insurance and your taxes – your accountant and bank need it too. The police routinely take “informational” police reports for this purpose.

MAKE SURE: You ask if there is a victims’ advocate or liaison officer on staff that you can talk to – they know how to access local government benefits and other assistance you might need and they know how to help you tell your story effectively. Domestic Abuse advocates understand trauma and can help you also.

Then leave.

THE AFTERMATH

After this is all done, know that you did a very brave thing and you told your story!

This was probably the first time you did this, but it will not be the last. Telling your story takes away a little more pain each time you tell it.

Be proud of yourself—telling your story the first time is hard and even harder to tell it to the police.

If you do it, you will be stronger.

You took one giant step forward. Now focus on getting on with your recovery.

Just remember, you will tell this story again.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
From the upcoming SCARS Gold Book – copyright © 2022 SCARS

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