Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team
RSN™ Guide: How Police Decide What Is Worth Investigating?
The challenge Police face with 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.:
As any 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. victim knows, the local police (or even national police) are very reluctant to get involved. Some local police don’t even want to take a police report (though they will take “informational reports” if a victim insists).
There is a reason for this and it involves a Law Enforcement process known as “Solvability.”
When a police report is taken, several factors known as “Solvability Factors” go into deciding if a case will be investigated or even followed up on.
After all, why should the police waste precious resources on unsolvable crimes. Even if everything is known, some cases remain unsolvable by their very nature.
These are the Solvability Factors:
- Is a suspect known?
In the case of online scams – do you have a REAL identity or just fake names.
- Is there a reliable witness with factual information regarding the crime?
In the case of scams that is the victim – though sadly not all victims are reliable.
- Is there a description of the suspect that is adequate to separate the suspect from others?
This is where hard data comes in – real photos or videos that are truly of the 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.. Rarely do victims have hard-data.
- Is there a possible location for the suspect?
Most victims have (at best) a money transfer address, not an actual location for the real scammer.
- Can the suspect be identified using photo images, line-up, etc.?
This assumes that you have a real photo of the scammer – unless you have also seen a real-time video with audio you just don’t know. Scammers use stolen photos like toilet paper, and nothing they say can be reliably believed.
- Has the victim or witness seen the suspect before or since?
In the case of scams, the answer is generally NO since scams are often conducted by gangsGangs A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested., organizations, or teams. You could see a hundred fake identities using the same stolen photo and there is no reason to believe it is even the same group of scammers.
- Is there a vehicle with a known license plate, make, model, color, identifiers, etc.?
Even if you see a photo of a vehicle on a social media profile how do you know if belongs to the scammer? Remember stolen photos?
- Is stolen property traceable through a known serial number, owner applied marks, damage, or unique description?
This assumes the property is where the police can get to it – the applies mostly in the case of Money MulesMoney mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit..
- Is there a distinct pattern or method (“M.O.”) linking the suspect to multiple crimes?
Here the problem is that there are just too many criminals doing exactly the same thing. It is institutional. It is international. It is global. There are over 100,000 professional scammers working at any time now.
- Is there usable physical evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, surveillance video/photos, etc.?
This is always no. Not even the Bank Transfer, MoneyGram, or Western Union information is reliable since the money can be picked up by anyone, including by fake names. Even phone numbers are not reliable in an age of forwarding internet phone numbers, and burner phones. Forget about emails, scammer burn through millions of them.
- Was there limited opportunity for the crime that would eliminate other potential suspects?
Again, there are 100,000 other scammers out there!
- Is the crime or the suspect within their jurisdiction?
These are almost never within the Police’s jurisdiction, and almost never even in that country!
These Solvability Factors allow the Police Departments around the world to use its resources efficiently.
When you look logically at the problem from the Police’s point of view, almost no online crime is solvable at the local police level, and most not even at the national level.
Sadly, this is the reason why you receive the response you get when you ask for local police help.
However, it is still vitally important that you report these crimes to your local police.