(Last Updated On: June 21, 2022)

Why Scammers Get Short Sentences

Understanding The Crimes Scammers Do!

A 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

Why Are They Not Jailed For The Rest Of Their Lives?

Many victims ask this simple question. Why don’t these criminals receive harsher sentences by courts around the world, but especially in Nigeria?

The answer to this question requires some background information.

What Is A 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.?

We start with a basic question, what is a scammer?

A scammer is 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.; usually part of a gangGang A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested. or organization, with the intent to steal money from their victims.

Scammers will do almost anything to get that money without regard to the harm or damage it does to the victims.

In other words, scammers or fraudsters are criminals!


What are the crimes that scammers typically commit?

The typical relationship scammer is what we will focus on. They are individuals, usually working in groups, that engage in several globally recognized crimes.

Here is a list of the typical crimes of a cyber-enabled criminal.

  1. CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD – they organize into teams and partnerships to conduct these crimes. They plan, hire additional services, buy resources, all with the intent to defraud. This is the crime of conspiracy, and usually it carries its own penalty.
  2. 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. – the purpose of any cyber-enabled or phone 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. is to defraud one or more individuals, or a business, or a government entity. They use deception to create a set of conditions to make this possible.
  3. WIRE-FRAUD – engaging in deception over an electronic or wired communication systems. They use devices connected to the phone networks and over the internet to commit these crimes.
  4. BANK FRAUD – they send and receive money often through the banking systems around the world, and they typically use false or deceptive information to do it.
  5. MONEY LAUNDERINGMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. – they are actively involved in moving money for the purpose of hiding their unlawful practices.
  6. TORTURE – intentionally causing severe mental pain to their victims arising out of their criminal intent both during and after the execution of the crime (see below)
  7. MANSLAUGHTER – these criminals openly talk about how victims take their own lives because of the 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.. Have foreknowledge of the possibility or even probability of the loss of life and still proceeding with their crimes would constitute manslaughter. At the very least, the scammer commits attempted manslaughter.

These are the typical scammers’ 7 Deadly Sins!



Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, along with an intent to achieve the agreement’s goal.  Most U.S. jurisdictions also require an overt act toward furthering the agreement.

Conspiracy generally carries a penalty on its own.  In addition, conspiracies allow for derivative liability where conspirators can also be punished for the illegal acts carried out by other members, even if they were not directly involved.  Thus, where one or more members of the conspiracy committed illegal acts to further the conspiracy’s goals, all members of the conspiracy may be held accountable for those acts.


Fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury (such as lose money).

Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. Fraud is a specific offense with certain features.

Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact, (2) knowledge on the part of the criminal that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.


The “wire” is any form of telecommunication: phone, fax, text message, radio, television, internet message, social media message, email, or any other form of airwave or cable communication. “Fraud” involves the use of intentional deception for monetary or personal gain.

Wire fraud is broad and includes any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds that are transmitted.

Typically, these are the four elements of wire fraud:

  • The defendant created or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money or property
  • The defendant did so with the intent to defraud
  • It was reasonably foreseeable that the defendant would use wire communications
  • The defendant did, in fact, use interstate/international wire communications


Bank fraud is defined as using deception to steal money or assets from a bank, financial institution, or a bank’s depositors. For legal purposes, a financial institution includes credit unions and banks that are federally insured. This includes banks, mortgage lending agencies, and other institutions that accept deposits of money or other financial assets.

In general, bank fraud may involve any deliberate action aimed at defrauding a financial institution or its customer. It may involve an intentional action aimed at receiving assets, money, securities, credits, or property from a financial institution through the use of pretense or false information.


Money laundering is the illegal process of making amounts of money generated by criminal activity, such as scams, drug trafficking, or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean.

Money laundering is a serious financial crime that is employed by criminals, conspirators, associates, or accessories.

  • Money laundering is the illegal process of making “dirty” money appear legitimate instead of ill-gotten.
  • Criminals use a wide variety of money-laundering techniques to make illegally obtained funds appear clean.
  • Online banking and cryptocurrencies have made it easier for criminals to transfer and withdraw money without detection.
  • The prevention of money laundering has become an international effort and now includes terrorist funding among its targets.


  1. For the purpose of this Declaration, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions to the extent consistent with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
  2.  Torture constitutes an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Most victims would agree that the psychological pain caused by these criminals would meet this definition.


Manslaughter involves the killing of another person, but it’s distinct from the crime of murder. Sometimes the line between manslaughter and murder isn’t clear.

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing that doesn’t involve malice aforethought—intent to seriously harm or kill or an extreme, reckless disregard for life. The absence of malice aforethought means that manslaughter involves less moral blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. than either first- or second-degree murder. (But plenty argue that some instances of felony murder, a form of first-degree murder, involve less blameworthiness than some instances of manslaughter.) Thus, while manslaughter is a serious crime, the punishment for it is generally less than that for murder.

Some victims would argue that scammers commit murder, and in many places when someone dies as a result of a crime it is considered murder. However, these criminals do not intend for the victims to die, but neither do they do anything to prevent it. Thus manslaughter is a more appropriate crime.


Now that we have looked at the crimes that scammers commit, we can see that this is no small thing. These crimes are in fact so serious that we would logically think they deserve life in prison.

However, there is a serious problem.

The problem is not with the criminal, but rather with the criminal justice system worldwide.

Far too often these criminals are not being charged with all the crimes they commit. They are usually charged with either just fraud or fraud with money laundering.

This allows the court to take great latitude in sentencing because these are considered non-violent crimes. Especially with first-time offenders – of course, every victim knows a scammer is not a first-time offender, but the court can only look at the number of times the criminal was arrested and charged.

The result is a perception that these crimes are not really all that serious and for that reason do not deserve more severe penalties or sentences. This explains why these criminals in courts around the world are given light sentences or community service.

Contrast this with the case of money mulesMoney mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit..

One of our directors, Sharon Armstrong, visited her romance scammer in Argentine and she was asked to carry “documents” back to New Zealand. In fact, it was drugs and she was arrested as a drug trafficker and she spent several years in prison. In some parts of the world, such as Cambodia, money mules caught in the same situation have been sentenced to death.


The solution to these situations is fairly simple, but it REQUIRES that victims actively participate.

One approach is for victims to write to their embassies in foreign countries to ask the prosecutors to add additional charges to match the full set of these crimes. Only through massive email writing campaigns can we get the local prosecutors to take this more seriously.

This also needs to be done in our own countries. Anyone can ask the court to be heard in the form of an Amicus brief that can be considered to help shine light on the seriousness of the crime. Since the judges are assigning the sentence, helping them understand how severe these crimes are can only help!

Another approach is to help support organizations such as SCARS which is already communicating with prosecutors and courts around the U.S. and worldwide.

In the end, it takes people working together to achieve results.

It is not about wasting time exposing scammers. It is about helping the criminal justice system everywhere understand how horrible these crimes are and how much impact they have on victims!

Begin by reporting every crime. Right now only about 1-3% of these crimes are ever reported. It will be taken much more seriously if 100% of these crimes were reported. Yes it is hard, but it is our duty!

If you are ever notified that there will be a trial, write a victim’s impact statement and make it clear to the court just how much harm the criminal did,

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SCARS GREN BOOK - The SCARS STEPS Guide to Scam Victim Recovery

Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide


This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!

Get it here

SCARS SLATE BOOK - A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!

A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims


This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

Get it here

SCARS RED BOOK - Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer


Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

Get it here

SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
SCARS CHERRY BOOK - A Guide To Understanding Your Fear
SCARS WORKBOOK - 8 Steps To Improvement
SCARS WORKBOOK - Understanding Self-Blame, Guilt, and Shame
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Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com