Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

This Year Marks Our 25th Year

25 Years Ago We Started On America Online Warning About Online 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.

We began our quest to educate and inform about 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., frauds, and cons, 25 years ago on the old AOL.

We started with an American Online forum about AOL cons.

About a year and a half later, we became aware of people in the dating and romance forums getting scammed as well. So we created a new forum for Romance Scams. Yes that name was in use then. It was coined by a group member (wish we could remember who).  At one point we had over 100,000 voices participating in this emerging type of online fraud.

Here is an old screen shot from about 1993

Our Forum on America Online 1993 About Romance Scams

Our Forum on America Online (AOL) 1993 About Romance Scams

Even in the early days on America Online, any number of frauds were running. Our own principal was a victim of one of these then. The Nigerians were running letter scams in the U.S. and the U.K. and making decent money, but when they discovered AOL they started getting creative with their 419419 An advance fee scam or fraud (419 scam) is a form of fraud and is one of the most common types of online confidence tricks. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster claims will be used to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim or simply disappears. The 419 comes from the Nigerian law against this type of scam. scams. However, we started to see real Romance Scams by about late ’92 – mostly with fraudsters in each country. These were the same con-men and women that were engaged in other kinds of locally-based frauds. They figured out that they could create a fake personality and connect with victims to 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. they money. Western Union was only too happy to transfer the money, and it wasn’t even much of a crime then. In those days, the scammers were not as greedy as today, and settled for small amounts that wouldn’t bring much police attention.

By 1995 we were on the web, as a subsection of the TigerDirect.com website, since our principal was a co-founder and senior executive of TigerDirect. He published a large section on their website about retail and other kinds of fraud under his webmaster’s page. In 1998, it was ported to a new website, which was published until 2012. At which point that website was shut down, and the new Romance Scams Now website was launched.

We, and other outstanding groups, such as RomanceScam.com and others, have worked tirelessly to help educate about online fraud, expose scammers, support enforcement where possible, and increase overall awareness of the world of online scams.

Thank you for your support over the years.

Together We Are Making A Difference!

 

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