We Have Seen Recently That Law Enforcement Can Be Very Supportive Of Scam Victims!
But Not When They Lie Or Hide Information!
We know that reporting these crimes can be very hard. Scam Victims feel incredible shame, fear, and self-blame. But these crimes must be reported.
After nearly 23 years of continuing relationship scam reporting to Federal authorities, yet still, only a tiny fraction of scam victims report these crimes. And when many of them are discovered, victims are not always truthful with law enforcement officers.
This is not only frustrating, but it is also dangerous for the public as a whole!
Imagine if all scam victims reported these crimes. There would be more attention paid to them by the government, law enforcement, the news media, and the public! People would be able to talk more easily about these subjects and prevent more victims. But (generally speaking) scam victims do not report these crimes – and this is true worldwide.
Our SCARS Managing Director, Dr. Tim McGuinness has been educating about relationship scams for 32 years and in all that time the situation has only marginally improved. “Pig Butchering Scams are being reported more than romance or other forms of scams. PBS are up to about 5-6% of scam victims reporting their crimes, but regular romance scams are still about 1-3% of these scam victims reporting. And sadly, this is a big part of why the world is so unprepared to fight this crime wave.”
Scam victims are not to blame for the scams themselves! They were expertly lured, groomed, manipulated, and controlled. But after the scam, all scam victims are responsible for the decisions they make. And sometimes those decisions come with additional consequences.
The only way SCARS knows to help scam victims to understand this is to share the hard truth and reality about it in articles like this one.
It Is Hard To Report
It can be difficult for scam victims to get up the courage to report these crimes. They are filled with shame, guilt, and anxiety.
However, we help victims both understand the need and how to make this process much easier. Plus, law enforcement worldwide is getting better at helping scam victims through the reporting process.
Learn how to make the reporting process easier:
- Start by better understanding what needs to be reported. Often scam victims are embarrassed about things that do not even matter to the police.
- Next join a SCARS Support & Recovery Group so you have support throughout the process, before, during, and after!
- Before you go to the police:
- Ask a friend or family member to go with you, at least as far as the lobby to help support you before and afterward. Sometimes you only have to call.
- If you received ANY money from the criminals, consult a criminal defense attorney before making your statement – just as a precaution. You can also have your attorney accompany you to the police or have him prepare a written statement in advance
- When you talk to the police:
- Tell them everything about all transactions – be 100% truthful – try to omit nothing
- If you forgot to tell them something, follow up with an email (not a phone call) – you need it in writing!
- Never deliberately lie or withhold something because you are embarrassed – the police are like your doctor, no need to be embarrassed.
- Make sure you get a police report number as proof of the report, plus write down the office and their badge number that you spoke with
Remember: if you forgot to tell them something, made a mistake about the facts, or withheld something, follow up by email and tell them everything.
What Happens If You Lie To The Police?
The police may be forgiving as long as you are not trying to hide your involvement in a crime!
However, if you were a money mule or aided the scammers in some other way and you lie about it, this could cause significant consequences for you!
U.S. Law 18 USC Section 1001 – Making False Statements
Federal law criminalizes certain statements and acts intended to interfere with the investigation of crimes and the administration of justice. This broad category of crimes includes perjury offenses, false statements, and obstruction of justice.
What are 18 USC 1001 False Statements?
False statements are criminalized under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. This law covers false statements made to law enforcement agencies like the FBI or to federal prosecutors in the Department of Justice, as well as false statements or acts taken to hide information from other agencies within the three branches of the federal government. The law covers oral statements, such as statements to agents interviewing you. It also covers written statements, such as lying on forms. A statement does not have to be under oath in order to qualify under this law.
Like perjury charges, the government must prove that the statement is materially false. The person making the statement must do so with the intent to deceive the government, rather than merely making a mistake.
One unique fact about false statements charges is that prosecutors sometimes rely on them when they have weak evidence or even a lack of evidence for another crime. So, for example, FBI agents show up and start asking you questions. You get nervous. You might be nervous simply because talking to a federal agent can be a scary experience. You may be nervous because you know about something that another person did, and you think this somehow implicates you. You may know that you did something wrong, or you might mistakenly believe that you committed a crime when you have not. You start making statements that are not true, hoping that the agent believes you and drops the whole thing. Now, all of a sudden, the prosecutor has a crime to charge you with.
As you can see, these charges have serious consequences.
Making a false statement is usually a felony. False statements charges carry up to five years in prison (at the federal level, and each state has its own statutes,) or, if the offense involves terrorism or certain types of sex offenses, up to 8 years. [Remember that scams do often fund terrorism, and can also involve other kinds of crimes such as sextortion.] It can also carry fines.
The statute of limitations in these cases is five years, from the time the statement was made or submitted. But, that is only in the case of making a false statement. Being an accessory to the crime may have longer limits.
Important: Before making a decision to speak with authorities or sign a form that subjects you to possible criminal liability, you should know your legal rights. Working with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney is the surest way to protect yourself from being charged with making false statements.
We are sorry if this scares you. We know that it is difficult, but reporting these crimes and telling the truth is important. It matters.
Far too many victims think these crimes are not important. Far too many Scam victims think the police do nothing anyway, so why should they bother? These views are completely wrong!
Hiding these crimes is exactly the wrong thing to do! Every report matters!
Every victim has a responsibility to their society, a duty! By reporting these crimes they take a huge burden off of their shoulders – they are not responsible for the next victim, and they will have successfully taken back control over their lives from the criminals! Reporting is a major step forward in recovering from these crimes.
Every scam victim needs to think about themself – they were a victim (in part) because past victims never reported these crimes. It is time to end this cascade of crime by doing the right thing!
SCARS is here to help you through this! Our support groups will help you understand and address the emotional issues. Our articles and guides will help you make it easier by preparing in advance so you essentially just give the officer a packet of information.
But no one can help you unless you do what needs to be done! Get help, learn what needs to be done and how to do it, and then begin the journey to recovery by reporting the crime!