This is a question I was recently asked, why do we use the term “scam survivors” rather than “scam victims”? The answer is very simple. The word “victim” has such a stigma attached to it that we avoid using it if at all possible. “Victim” says that the person had something bad happen to them. “Survivor” says that the person had something bad happen to them, they dealt with it, moved on with their life and now refuse to be labeled by it. They beat it, it didn’t beat them. Which would you rather be?
One of the questions I’m often asked by the media is “How do you get the scammers’ information?” and the simple answer is, I have something called a catcher account. It’s an email address that was specifically created to put out into the wild in order to receive scammer emails. It’s never used for any real life activities, has a fake name and uses absolutely nothing that could ever identify me. Many years ago it was added to a fake “sucker list” and posted online. The only reason anyone would ever contact me on it is because they want to try and scam me. I never use it to initiate contact with a scammer. It’s only ever used to receive emails. The reason for this is to avoid any accusations of entrapment. How successful is it? Judge for yourself. The screen grab below is the list of what emails it received in a single day.
When someone has completed the steps we give that help deal with sextortion scams, we offer them the chance to leave a comment. This is one we received today, and it shows just how important the work we do is:
I just want to thank all of you behind this page. Because if it werent for you I would probably be getting beat by my ENTIRE family or committing suicide
We’ve all seen those “like and share” stories on Facebook, right? Some are harmless, some are funny, but some are dangerous and here’s why.
Let’s say I create a post on Facebook with some great (true or made up, it doesn’t matter) story and ask people to like and share it. People do, and as time goes by it gathers momentum. Now that post’s been liked by tens of thousands of people. It HAS to be a good post, right? Now let’s take that post that’s so liked and edit it. “Look at these cute puppies” or whatever it said before gets completely removed and replaced with an ad for some dodgy product. When people look at that page now, what they see is that tens of thousands of people liked the ad that says “Make millions within a week by doing this one simple thing”. Tens of thousands of people liked it, so it must be good, right? Of course not. It’s a complete scam designed purely to make one person money, and that one person is me! Anyone else who tries it only loses money, but the likes the post has makes it appear that it actually does work. And that in a nutshell is how like farming works and why liking and sharing these posts is bad. The best thing to do if someone sends you one is to break that chain, not like or share it and tell the person who sent it to you why it’s such a bad idea.
Out of curiosity today, I did some research regarding how many posts and topics have been made on our forum in the past 12 months. Here’s what I discovered:
We received 5000 sextortion reports and made 2000 topics. Not all the forms we receive have enough information to be able to post it publicly. In those cases, we have a single topic in a “staff only” area for us to keep track of them. On average, around 1 in every 5 reports we receive are not posted in the public area.
Our 419 section had roughly 8500 posts and 2200 topics. That’s an average of around 23 posts a day.
The romance scam section has 2500 posts in 500 threads.
Our refugee scam section had 300 posts in 16 threads.
These are just in the “scam reports” section of our forum, and doesn’t take into account the work that goes into shutting down scammer websites etc. That’s a lot of work in getting the word out, wouldn’t you say?
Valentines Day is fast approaching, and scammers are going to hit hard on those looking for love online. Back in 2014 we were lucky enough to be able to give a presentation to the dating site industry about the ways to spot romance scammers. Since then, it’s been made into a web based presentation and added to/tweaked on a fairly regular basis to keep up with the latest trends used by scammers. Even today it’s had some extra information added. If you want to check it out, it’s at https://scamsurvivors.com/romancescammers/#/
Let me explain by first telling you what it isn’t:
It’s not a website, although there’s obviously a website attached.
It’s not a movement or a hashtag or a bandwagon.
It’s not some government organisation.
It’s not a company.
So what is Scam Survivors? It’s four people from around the world who don’t want the scammers to win, so do all we can to try and stop them using every resource we have. That’s what Scam Survivors is. Do you feel the same way? Do you want to join us? All it takes is for you to post up any scam emails you receive. It’s that simple. Why aren’t you doing it already?
As kind of a counterpoint to the last blog post, which was kind of a downer, let’s look at the times we were buoyed by things we saw. The main source of this for me right now is our feedback form. It’s something we ask people to fill in after completing the sextortion steps. What do we get from there? Let’s take a look at a few examples to see why these would pick us up. We ask two questions, how useful were the steps we give and are there any comments:
Thank you for all the tips, really enjoyed the help
Very usefull and make me much relieved
I never thought I’d find a nice place such as this here.
Just thx for the advices. I was lost over a day and didnt know what to do. Really thank you guys for these steps
Great info you shared.
Thanks a lot for your help
I feel more comfortable now…thank you
thanks for everything
thank you from the bottem of my heart
It’s not the “Thank you” messages that make this worthwhile. That’s a bonus obviously, but knowing what we did helped people makes us want to continue the fight no matter what. We have to fight enemies from all sides on a constant basis, but even if just one person was helped by our words, we’d do it all again.
… but quite frankly I can’t. Here’s the problem. I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my passion going for what we do. Is it the scammers? Nope, the scammers haven’t changed at all. The victims then? Again, nope. The problem, and the reason I’m feeling my desire to do this lessen is those who are supposed to be on the same side. It’s the “experts” who deny anything they haven’t personally witnessed. It’s the media constantly ignoring the facts in exchange for a good story. It’s those who think they’re superior just because they’re on the latest bandwagon. It drags you down, and it’s been getting worse – much worse – these past 2 or 3 years. 2018 was the first year I seriously considered walking away and finding something else to do, and here’s why. I’m sick and tired of those people who should be supporting each other but prefer instead to put their own egoes front and centre. This is not what the antiscam community is supposed to be, but this is what it’s becoming more and more each day. The biggest worry is that from experience I see it only getting worse. Eventually it’s going to get to the stage where only a select few voices will be heard, no matter how wrong what they’re saying is. On that day, I’m off to watch cat videos on Youtube or something. Remember, a lot of people do this for no money or desire for adulation. They do it purely because they want to help people. Keep discouraging those, and what’ll you be left with?
Actually, you know what, forget that. Stay safe all year round. Being aware of scams isn’t just for Christmas.