People from time to time come to us asking for help, then proceed to argue with us over it or completely ignore it. Let me explain the background to why we know so much about these scams.
Between us, there’s over 30 years’ experience in dealing with scam emails. We have received thousands of 419 emails in that time. Tens of thousands even. We’ve seen them all. When a new email format comes around, it’s usually nothing more than a variation of an old one we’ve seen before. We can practically smell a 419 email or fake account from a mile away. We’ve also talked to those who have been victims of scams. We know their stories, we know what the scammers did, we can even tell them what the scammer will do next. Remember, scammers tend to be lazy and unimaginative. A leads to B, leads to C in over 99.99% of cases. That’s why, when people come to us for help, we can tell them what’s happened and what to look out for.
Regarding sextortion, we’ve received over 11,000 forms with scammer details and the steps the scammer did. We don’t just post them up on our forum without checking them. We read each and every one of them, removing information that would give away the identity of the victim, correcting mistakes in the form and often going that extra mile to uncover much more than we were given. An email address may lead to a second profile, a phone number may show a connection to another scam and so on. We also talk to people. Our live help room is open for 6 hours a day, every week day. In the years it’s been available, we’ve talked to thousands of people who were caught up in the scam. We’ve even on occasion talked to the scammers themselves.
Putting aside the years we spent on other sites before ScamSurvivors was created, we’ve had four years of talking to people, receiving and replying to scammer emails, reading, studying, investigating and even meeting with government agencies to share information. It’s a long, hard, often thankless task that we do for free, but it means that when we say someone’s a scammer, that the email is fake, you need to deactivate your Facebook account or that there is no trunk box winging its way to you, we know exactly what we’re talking about.
You may have noticed that the forum on our site has been down several times for short periods. Here’s what happened. Firstly, we decided to add a few extra features to it in order to make life simpler for the staff here. No big deal, right? We made a copy of the forum, checked everything worked and moved it across – only for it to default to an old design. It turns out that when you alter files in the admin panel, it doesn’t write them to the style folder but keeps them in a cache file. Move things around and it goes back to the default rather than what’s in the cache. This mainly altered the look of the forum, with images reverting back to ones we’d used a year or so ago. It also caused a few of the plugins we had to throw a fit. Most of this was behind the scenes and didn’t affect the user experience for anyone but the forum staff. After a few days, all the kinks were worked out and back to normal. Then we put something else in that caused all the avatars and uploaded images to disappear. That one took 7 hours to fix, and turned out to be something in a completely different folder to what we expected. It’s like finding your car’s brakes don’t work anymore because your horn is faulty. During that process, I updated some software as part of the diagnosis process and that caused the watermarks to vanish from our gallery. Luckily this one was an easier fix. Right now, everything is working fine, the extra stuff we added is integrated and working 100%. It was also a real learning experience for me. I have managed to learn more about how the forum software works these past 2 weeks than the previous 4 years we’ve been using it. So yes, it was stressful for all involved, but at the end of the day it was definitely worth it. And no more touching any of the files if I can help it from now on. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Back in January I was asked to take part in the filming of a documentary on sextortion for the Asian market. This week I was approached about a potential UK version. A little digging found the original program, and it’s definitely worth watching. I’d say this is one of the best, if not the best documentary I’ve seen on the subject. If the UK version turns out to be anywhere near this good then I’ll be more than happy to help again. You can watch it at the link below.
Click here for the video.