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SCARS|RSN™ Scam Basics: Where Does Your Money Go?
Scammers Arrests Are Increasing Worldwide, But When Arrested Where Does The Victim’s Money Go?
This Depends On The Country
In the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, and other First World Countries
When scammers are arrested in the developed – first world countries – there is a process for including and supporting victims in the process. This includes participating in the trial, in the sentencing, and the return of the victims’ assets. In most of these countries, there is a defined set of victims’ rights that protects the victim and allows for their participation and recovery.
However, there can be conflicts when the government imposes fines on the perpetrator – in these cases, this comes before restitution to the victims. This is why it is important for victims to participate in the process, especially in the assignment sentencing so that the court can consider the victims’ interests.
If the monies and other property seized by law enforcement are insufficient, courts frequently assign restitution requirements for the convict. If the amount of restitution is insufficient, victims can also engage in a civil suit for more recovery.
Of course, this only applies when the scammer is caught and tried in a first world / developed country or one that has these processes in place.
In The Rest Of The World
In most other countries – this includes Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Africa, anything that is seized from the scammers is typically just kept by the local government that is involved.
The physical assets, such as electronics, are typically kept by law enforcement for their use or sold for their monetary value.
In the case of money, this depends on the country and their process. In some countries, it is kept by law enforcement, in others, it goes to the national treasury. In almost all cases it never goes back to the victim.
Additionally, the victim rarely has any say in the process, including sentencing. (click here for more on sentencing)
Are Victims Notified?
In the Western World, yes they are, since each victim results in another potential criminal count or charge against the scammer.
Law enforcement will examine the seized computers, phones, and other documents to help them identify victims, then bring the victim into the process to try and convict the scammer. In most cases, every victim identified will be contacted to aid in the judiciary process.
However, in Asia / Pacific, Latin America, and especially Africa – the victim is not critical to the case and rarely is the victim local, so the process of notification breaks down. In Nigeria, for example, unless the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) is specifically working on a victim complaint – the scammer is arrested, tried, and convicted without victim participation. The victims of the convicted scammers will simply never know since they are unnecessary to the trial and conviction process.
SCARS is in discussion with African governments and worldwide with our global SCARS Chapters to change this process.
What Happens To The Evidence?
In the Western World, the evidence is retained by law enforcement or the courts for future use in cases of appeal or retrial. All contents are kept in evidence and inaccessible by the public.
In Africa, Asia / Pacific, and Latin America:
After the completion of the trial, the evidence is usually freed for use by law enforcement or disposed of.
In the case of computers or phones:
- Law enforcement will wipe them so they can use them, or
- They will be sold off – typically as is – which may leave victim’s and criminal information on them
Paper evidence is either retained in semi-secure files or destroyed.
However, all victims of scammers should automatically assume that all information that they provided to a scammer has been compromised. The victim should take immediate protective actions to secure themselves, such as: changing bank accounts, changing their credit or bank cards, changing all of their online credentials (logins and passwords), and other accounts. It is also highly recommended to subscribe to a monitoring service since romance scam victims run a very high risk of having their identity stolen.
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A SCARS Division
Miami Florida U.S.A.
TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Evidence, Seized Assets, Seized Money, Confiscated Money, Victim’s Money, Recovering Money, EFCC, Identity Theft,