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SCARS|RSN™ Advocacy Report: Saudi Arabia 2019

On March 27th 2019, an event was held by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabi. This was to kick off their 2030 National Transformation Plan » for modernization. This was attended by our Chairman and one of our Board Members.

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Ministry of Culture Website »

The first event was met with major fanfare (here is one of their press releases » the event that Dr. McGuinness attended.) Here is more press about the event (click here »)

We do thank the Royal Government for their invitation and the all-expenses-paid visit to their kingdom, but that is where we have to stop the propaganda and get down to the reality of the situation on the ground for scam victims in Saudia Arabia – at the risk of alienating ourselves from future conversations with their government.

Meeting With Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate for Public Security

The next day our Chairman met with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Public Security »

The objective for the conversation was to be about Scams that originate in Saudi Arabia and how they care for the victims of scams. Our goal was to coordinate with them on identified scammers, and how to better support victims there.

Medieval Times In Saudi Arabia

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To Say We Were Shocked Is An Understatement!

Our overtures were not well received. In fact, it was viewed as an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of their country and with some hostility. Something we have never seen in our meetings with other country’s police forces.

We must be cautious in the representations we make and how we report on these matters since the power of the Saudi Kingdom is well known, both financially and diplomatically. As a nonprofit, we always must be concerned about our donors and our ability to work with governments around the world. Plus our team frequently passes through this region on their way to China, so care must be exercised in what we report.

However, there were certain revelations that emerged that must be shared.

Is It Really Any Surprise?

Is it really any surprise that in the land where Islamic law allows for the stoning of people that we should expect a modern approach to the recognition and care of victims?

In our first exposure to their current culture during the 2030 Cultural Event, all was modern, gracious and civil. But the following day we were given the opportunity to visit their national police directorate and meet with officials and officers that actually deal with online crimes and their victims. Our reception was professional and polite but frigid.

The Saudi View Of Scammers

In General, The View Of The Saudi Police On Scammers Varies Depending On The Type Of Scam And The Gender Of The Victim

For example, business fraud is treated very seriously with harsh prison sentences, even allowing the death penalty in very severe cases. Thus we hear of very little in the way of true business scams originating from the Kingdom. The same views hold for malware distribution, such as ransomware and other forms of online extortion. There is an active hacker community, but only those that work for the government are tolerated.

The local police enforce the law vigorously in the cases of business scams. They even treat “fake news” as another form of business scam and it can be punished severely.

The result is generally a serious intent to enforce international norms when it applies to business fraud.

“Soft Scams”

The Saudi view on Soft Scams – those affecting individuals was radically different and intolerant.

In Essence, In The Case Of These: It Is All The Victim’S Fault!

Victim blaming – it is based on the victim’s greed or lust or other immoral behavior – in their view – is at the root of all non-business socially engineered scams.

THEIR VIEW IS THAT THE VICTIMS GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED!

They do not even view these scams as being a crime since their formal view is that the victim made a gift of their money to the scammer. Fraud without a financial loss is also not viewed as a crime at all, just foolish behavior (as long as it does not break other laws or moral behavior.)

Romance Scams

Now we get into the truly MEDIEVAL side of their view and policies.

And It Is Highly Skewed Based Upon The Gender Of The Victim:

A Male Victim of a romance scam can be excused for being “stupid” (as they say.) They are simply following lust and other immoral behavior and their punishment is typically the function of their religious law – meaning a penance of some kind.

Women, on the other hand, can face true horror for being the victim of a romance scam. Now we understand why so few victims ever come forward from this region of the world. Depending on the circumstances, a woman romance scam victim can face significant physical abuse up to an including death, all sanctioned under the law.

Depending On Status:

If A Woman Is Single (unmarried) and is involved in a romance scam it brings shame o