A Brief History Of The Beginning Of Online Scamming [UPDATED]

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A Brief History Of The Beginning Of Online Scamming [UPDATED]

(Last Updated On: August 2, 2022)

A Brief History Of The Beginning Of Online Scamming

Updated July 2022

A Short Introduction Into Scamming History

A 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. Insight

In The Very Beginning 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. Were Face To Face

Then they migrated to classified ads or by the mail. The Nigerian Prince scams actually started as letters sent through the post.

A Little History

The modern 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. is similar to the Spanish Prisoner scam that dates back to the late 18th century. In that con, businessmen were contacted by an individual allegedly trying to smuggle someone who is connected to a wealthy family out of a prison in Spain. In exchange for assistance, 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. promised to share money with the victim in exchange for a small amount of money to bribe prison guards.

One variant of the scam may date back to the 18th or 19th century, as a very similar letter, entitled “The Letter from Jerusalem.” This is illustrated in the memoirs of Eugène François Vidocq, a former French 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. and private investigator. Another variant of the scam, dating back to ca. 1830, appears very similar to emails today: “Sir, you will doubtlessly be astonished to be receiving a letter from a person unknown to you, who is about to ask a favor from you…” and goes on to talk of a casket containing 16,000 francs in gold and the diamonds of a late marchioness.

The modern-day transnational scam can be traced back to Germany in 1922 and became popular during the 1980s. There are many variants of the template letter. One of these, sent via postal mail, was addressed to a woman’s husband to inquire about his health. It then asked what to do with profits from a $24.6 million investment and ended with a telephone number.

Other official-looking letters were sent from a writer who said he was a director of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He said he wanted to transfer $20 million to the recipient’s bank account—money that was budgeted but was never spent. In exchange for transferring the funds out of Nigeria, the recipient would keep 30% of the total. To get the process started, the scammer asked for a few sheets of the company’s letterhead, bank account numbers, and other personal information. Yet other variants have involved mention of a Nigerian prince or another member of a royal family seeking to transfer large sums of money out of the country—thus, these scams are sometimes called “Nigerian Prince emails”.

But When Did Online Scams Start?

We all know the world of online scamming now. Nigeria holds control over this world and rakes in billions of dollars.

However, Online Dating Opened The Door

Online dating really began on the old Compuserve, as well as dedicated Bulleting Board Systems back in the 1980’s. As early as 1982 there was an online dating service based out of San Jose California on a dedicated dial-up computer that had 320 profiles – that was created by the RSN founder and operated from his office at Atari.

Compuserve

Compuserve

By 1989 Compuserve had message boards devoted to dating, and of course, there were the inevitable liars. These were not true romance scammers, as much as they were local con-artists.

In 1991 the first appearance of the term “Romance Scam” emerged, but these were not the kinds of scams we know today, these were marriage and visa scams. In those days people were talking about international dating services – Eastern Europeans, Latin Americans, and Asians looking to marry Western Europeans and Americans. However, these were numbered at only a few hundred.

An illustration of AOL Chat Rooms - unfortunately no screen shots have survived

An illustration of AOL Chat Rooms – unfortunately, no screenshots have survived

In 1991 there was a Romance Scams message board on AOL.

The romance scams that we know now first emerged in 1992 with the significant expansion of Compuserve into Europe. In those days it was all dial-up connections, so African scammers in England began developing the model. Nigerians would rotate through the UK, and in a few cases actually dialed in from Nigeria to UK numbers to connect with Compuserve. These were mostly telecom workers who did not have to worry about the phone bills. You could say that today’s romance scams actually began in the Nigerian phone company.

By 1993, Compuserve had more than 1.5 million subscribers dialing in around the world and 90,000 of those subscribers were in Europe.

As best we can estimate by 1994 there were about 10-12 real romance scammers working. These were polished Nigerians looking for a quick payday.

In 1995 the first web-based dating service Date.com was launched as a unit of TigerDirect.com That service shut down by 1997 over legal and liability concerns. But it did show dozens of African subscribers by the time it was ended.

By 1997 AOL and other similar services were dominating the Internet with their own dating services, message boards, and chat rooms, and romance scams was an established – if not well-known – problem online.

Connecting-to-AOL

Connecting to AOL

From there it simply grew organically, and with the advent of the Communications Decency Act of 1997 in the U.S., the die was cast. The Bush Administration was so totally focused on the war on terror that they never noticed the growth, and by the time Obama entered he had no interest in enforcing anything over poor Africa – his home continent!

Thus from something that could have been shut down with a single power switch, it has grown to over 400 million fake profiles on Facebook alone as of 2018, and more than several Billion fake identities across the Internet.

Romance Scams Now.com – Here From The Beginning – Published From 2000 To The Present! 23 Years and Counting

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Essential Tools For Every Scam Victim From SCARS Publishing

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Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 31 plus years of experience.

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SCARS GREN BOOK - The SCARS STEPS Guide to Scam Victim Recovery

SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide

LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN

This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as 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. counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!

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SCARS RED BOOK - Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

SCARS RED BOOK
Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!

Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

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SCARS SLATE BOOK - A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

SCARS SLATE BOOK
A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS

This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how 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? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

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SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
SCARS CHERRY BOOK - A Guide To Understanding Your Fear
SCARS WORKBOOK - 8 Steps To Improvement
SCARS WORKBOOK - Understanding Self-Blame, Guilt, and Shame
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Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com

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By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS 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. Inc.

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