At the time of writing this, it’s just a few short weeks until the 14th anniversary of my falling down this rabbit hole. People have made a lot of assumptions, one that we work hand in hand with the police. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not denying the fact we do on occasion work with law enforcement, not that law enforcement has in fact contacted us asking for help/advice/an explanation into how we managed to track down the real person behind a particular scam. On occasion we’ve even been asked to be put in touch with other victims of a particular scammer. Here’s where it gets difficult though.
Sometimes we’re contacted by law enforcement asking us to plug a particular service they provide, to put a link on our site or to share a hashtag. In almost every case we politley refuse. Why? Well, there’s several reasons.
Firstly, why should we? This may sound selfish, but let me jump you back several years when we found the National Crime Agency had taken our work (and by “our” work, I mean words I’d likely rewritten a dozen or so times until I was completely happy with them) on sextortion and included it in their press release, a year after meeting with me to seek out my experiences on the scam. All well and good you may think, but this was done without our knowledge, permission or even acknowledgement. Imagine seeing the words you’d written, rewritten, deleted, written once again and ultimately rearranged many times used by someone else, who then told people who were dealing with that particular problem to go to sites who had NOTHING to do with the scam, but were under the same umbrella as them. Yes, that left a bad taste in our mouths that remains to this day.
Secondly, why bother? As I said earlier, I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve seen hashtags come and go, I’ve seen campaigns start in a blaze of publicity, to practically disappear within weeks. If we supported a particular movement, what’s to say it’ll still be around in a year’s time? Better to stand clear of them all and not get snared into putting your name against the LE equivelent of Betamax or HD DVD.
Thirdly, what have they done for us? Think about this one, something that has happened to me on more than one occasion. I get a call out of the blue from a policeman I’ve never spoken to before asking for me to put a link on our site to a campaign that’s never once so much as looked our way before, who the only dealings I’ve had with were due to one of them being in the same conference as me, and who pretty much looked down his nose at the work we do becasue we’re not Government funded. I’m happy enough to help out where I can, but I firmly believe in “quid pro quo”. Help among various agencies should never be a one way street. If we can help, we’re happy to help, but we’re not a charity and we’re not being paid for this. We do this purely because we want to help people. Common decency says there has to be reciprocation. If not, then I see no reason to help.
Fourthly, “screw those guys”. I’ll keep this one short, as I could rant for hours over it. If you’re going to try and belittle the around 40 years’ combined knowledge our volunteers have because you’ve never personally experienced one of the scams we have, why the hell should we give you the time of day? You’ve never seen it, so it must not exist? Screw you!
And fifthly, the “Action Fraud” effect. ScamSurvivors is independant, receives no government funding and has fought tooth and nail to be in the position where we’re at right now, where some people see us as “experts” and trust the information we share with them. the last thing we want is to be tarred with the same brush as organisations that have been outed in the public as not caring about the people who contact them. We care. We care enough to give up all our free time to help people. We care enough to do this for free, to have put our own money into it, and we care enough to have been doing this for a number of years.
There are instances where we’ve worked with law enforcement or government agencies, but they’re few and far between. It takes a lot to get us to trust you, and a single moment to blow that trust. We are always going to walk on the side of caution, and if that means we have a smaller profile then so be it. We are proud to be ScamSurvivors, and we wil never compromise our principles for anyone.