It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since we paid our 10 bucks and bought the ScamSurvivors name for that first year to create this site. Since then, so much has happened. I thought I’d share some of the funnier or more unique stories from that time in this blob post, in no particular order.
In one of the earliest incidents, we were kicked off our shared host after our site was the victim of a DDoS attack so big it took down our site, the entire node we were on, and several hundred other sites who had the misfortune to be on the same node. Luckily they gave us 24 hours to make a backup and move elsewhere. Ever since, we’ve been on our own server with DDoS protection. We still get attacked, but thankfully we’ve not been down due to one since.
We were however down for 3 weeks a few years ago after we moved to a new host and were given a server with a dodgy hard drive. There was lots of hair being pulled out, but thankfully we managed to find another host and Frankenstein together the site from various backups. Thankfully we’ve had no issues since then.
Around 3 months into our existence, we were threatened with a takedown request after the webmaster of a site decided to take offence at our posting images of the model his site worked with, despite our contacting him looking to work with him in raising awareness of scammers abusing stolen images of his client. I won’t name names, but when I did some research it turned out that www.josieannmiller.com was available to buy, so I did and had it redirect to our site. A few weeks later, the webmaster actually joined our forum and let us know that the scammer problem had become so bad that he’d put a scam warning on his site and a link to us in it.
Another time we had a threatening email from a company because an email from a scammer pretending to be them was posted on our forum. They demanded we remove all mention of them, which I respectfully did. I also posted up their emails to us in order to explain why we’d made such a move. The odd thing is, that meant the three mentions of their name made by the scammer were replaced with almost 50 mentions of their name from their emails. How did this one end? With an apology from them and a “keep up the good work” message.
Most recently, a major company came to us looking to work with us in dealing with the scammers abusing their service. I can’t name names, but suffice to say it’s a BIG name!
The past sis years have been – interesting to say the least. Would I do it all again? Most definitely. Would I do it any differently? Probably not. Where would be the fun in that?
If someone had their car stolen, it would be ridiculous to treat them as if they’d been in a car accident, right? Both involve cars, but they’re different beasts and should be treated as such. Likewise, if someone is mugged by a drug addict, rehab isn’t where they need to be sent. The media loves the phrase “sextortion” as a “cover all” name for a number of crimes, and we expect that. The media also likes the terms “vigilantes” and “scamming the scammers”. It’s a necessary evil we’ve come to live with. The problems rise when law enforcement does the same. There are at least three distinct crimes under the “sextortion” banner that are all similar insomuch as they involve the abuse of images or video of the victim (sextortion, webcam blackmail and revenge porn). After that, they become different entities and should be treated as such. Sextortion victims wouldn’t get the help they need on a revenge porn help site in exactly the same way a victim of revenge porn would find the advice on a webcam blackmail help site irrelevant. We can see the differences between the three and treat them as such, so why can’t law enforcement? They after all have people who are paid to help, while we are a small group of just four people doing this for free. If we can do it with our limited resources, why can’t they?
For those unaware of how websites work, here’s a quick rundown of what goes into owning a website. The first part is the name itself. This is the cheapest bit as it’s about $15 a year, including privacy protection. After that, you need to find a place to host the site. This is where it gets a lot more complicated, as there are myriad options out there, from free hosting to paying thousands a year, depending on what your needs are. For the record, we pay so much for the physical system the website is kept on (basically a computer whose only purpose is to run the website) and so much again for the software used to manage all the behind the scenes stuff. The option we use isn’t cheap, as we need certain protections against people trying to attack us and get the site shut down. We’re also able to host everything ourselves, right down to the images and videos we use. That means we’re completely in control of all our own content.
Anyway, yesterday I had to renew the names part. We own several site names. Some are sites in their own right, while some are “redirects”, which come back to a page on scamsurvivors.com when you type its name in. Names are paid for by the year, and a quick check showed that both scamsurvivors.com and stupidscammers.com will be 6 years old this month, while blackmailscams.com will reach its 4th birthday about 2 weeks earlier. In that time, there’s been over 150,000 posts on our forum, over 20,000 blackmail forms filled in and millions of pairs of eyes checking out our sites and hopefully protecting themselves from being scammed.
With the new server, we have a new version of the file editor that checks for errors in the coding. You would not believe the amount of time I’ve spent going through pages and fixing the errors that were there. There was nothing serious, just some silly mistakes, but seeing those red crosses bring out a primal urge to fix them. At the same time, I went and made sure our site shows up as 100% HTTPS. A lot of the pages were written before we had an SSL certificate, so most of it was simply putting that S after HTTP on image links. Now that’s done, it’s time to check on some other areas of the site. The work never ends.