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: Ghana 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. Study – Rationalizing Online Romance 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.
In the Eyes of the Offender
This study seeks to understand romance 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. from the offenders’ perspective and how they rationalize their motivations, opportunities and abilities towards the commission of the crime. To this end, we adopt the Motivation-Opportunity-Ability framework and the Rationalization dimension of the Fraud Triangle Theory. The study employed a qualitative methodological approach to analyze the opportunities presented by emerging technologies to cyber fraudsters amid socio-economic drivers. One is the interplay of various socio-economic factors being a major driving force behind the commission of 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..
These include peer recruitment and training, poverty, unemployment, low level of education and low income. The uniqueness of this study stems from the fact that it deviates from previous studies to investigate cybercrime from the perspective of the perpetrators. Again, this study is arguably one of the first to put all three dimensions of the MOA framework and the rationalization dimension of the Fraud Triangle to study romance scammers’ behaviors.
This study sought to consolidate how online romance fraudsters rationalize their motivations, opportunities available in the environment and their ability to commit online romance 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.. Using a qualitative approach, four romance fraud perpetrators who operated as a group and six independent cybercrime perpetrators were interviewed and observed. The findings of this study brought to bear some findings with respect to the drivers, opportunity and ability of cybercriminal activities.
- First, an interplay of various socioeconomic factors is a major driving force behind the commission of cybercrime. These include peer recruitment and training, poverty, unemployment, low level of education and low income.
- Second, cybercrime perpetrators ride on the availability of affordable technologies and network services.
- Third, the lack of confidence in law enforcement grants cybercriminals the opportunity to commit crimes. Again, online romance scammers possess basic computer and social skills which helps them in the commission of online scams. Finally, they find justifications to make sense of their unlawful behaviors.
The main source of data for this study was collected among a cybercrime syndicate, which started in 2015. The group operates with four male members and female affiliates. The coming together of the group was as a result of specialization. The chief informant avers that “people in this business have their strengths and weaknesses… I am very good at shopping. One of the guys is also good at chatting clients”.
Evidence from the data collected for this study suggested that peer recruitment and training, poverty, unemployment, low level of education and low-income influence individuals’ decisions to commit romance scams.
In considering the motivations for the commission of internet crimes, a complete explanation must ultimately consider the sociocultural environments in which people conduct their daily lives. This then leads the discussion to the configurations of the forces in the environment of a person that enables the person’s work performance; opportunity.
Evidence from the data points to the fact that cybercriminals’ targets are mostly westerners desperately seeking romantic relationships.
While one of the respondents believe, the victims are wealthy and for that matter do not lose anything when they are scammed, an astonishing revelation was when one of the group members said:
“They are credit cards from the Osama Bin Laden Bombing… those who died didn’t die with their cards.”
Even though this assertion may not be directly related to online romance fraud, the respondent believed the victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attack still have their monies on their cards and for that matter they are robbing from no one.
Again, online romance scam fraudsters interviewed for this study rationalize their activities as not being as dangerous as traditional crimes like robbery and murder.
For example, a respondent claimed that “No one can judge me with what I am doing unless a judge tells me that I am 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.; nobody can call me a criminal.”
He is of the view that cybercriminal activities are standard practices that people commit even without knowing.
He again questions that “those who have been downloading movies from pirate sites, do they pay? Do you call them cyber criminals?”.
The respondent further maintains that cybercrime is less a crime than traditional crimes “it is better to do something than do nothing… I can’t go and rob people … No, it is bad to do that”.
Romance scammers also claim that they take advantage of greedy, gullible and unintelligent westerners who are slow at identifying scam relationships. This, they believe, is a payback for
the pain inflicted on their ancestors by the westerners during the era of the slave trade. This finding even though is in line with the research of Monica Whitty (2018) the claim of 9/11 victims being the target seems to be an eyeopener.
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IMPORTANT NOTE: The authors of this study are not agreeing or apologizing for the scammers. Their job is to help us understand why they scam and how they justify it. The researchers do believe it is wrong and are working to find ways to solve the problem.Rationalizing Online Romance Fraud RSN Version
We thank Professors: Jonathan Nii Barnor Barnor, Richard Boateng, Emmanuel Awuni Kolog, and Anthony Afful-Dadzie of the University of Ghana Business School for making their research available to us.
TAGS: SCARS, Scammer Motivation, Scammer Rationalization, Scammer Opportunity, Scammer Ability, Rationalization., Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Ghana, Ghana Scammers, Ghana Fraudsters, Ghana Study
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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It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local PoliceLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
- Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. « www.IC3.gov »
- The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « www.Anyscam.com »
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
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