Let’s stop pretending.

We live in a world of double standards.  When a woman is raped, there will be voices blaming her for the clothes she wore or for her way of being.  “She was asking for it”.  On the other hand, if the woman is a celebrity, there will be enough fuss for society to do something about it and punish the culprit, even if the law can not do it.  If an old man gets beaten black and blue on the street by a gang of drunken youngsters, there will be voices blaming him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and maybe doing something to antagonize his agressors.  If someone gets his wallet stolen in a crowded place, there will be voices saying “it was his fault”  or “he was careless”.  At the same time, if a theft affects a big company or a public figure, you will see all the legal authorities jumping in and trying their best to solve the case and punish the culprit.  The perception changes only if the victim is someone you know and care about, but who cares about an ordinary person except the family and friends circle?  How many people even know if their friend or family member was a victim of such events?

It’s easy to judge things you don’t understand.  An online fraud is an aggression ending in theft.  Any online fraud is a mental rape of the victim.  Despite claims of having a social system build to punish this type of actions, that system works perfectly in a single direction: finding excuses for doing nothing.  Instead of support and help, all the victims get is blame.

The real world and the scam world are parallel universes, with enough connections forcing changes from one to another.  The lack of victim protection in the real world created a scam world where every fraudster knows he can do whatever he wants without being punished.

When it’s about online fraud, everybody remember only the funny things showing how stupid the scammers are.  If the scammers are so stupid, what do you call someone really believing their lies?  We have an ignored equation here.  For every stupid scammer making people laugh, there are thousands of others learning from that one stupid scammer’s mistake. Even that stupid one will be not doing it if there is no money he can earn from it.  In his society, each successful scammer is a model – as long as he is not caught.

In Malta a few days ago, a magistrate judging a get-rich type of scam said in court: “You must be an imbecile to invest in these scams. The law ends up defending imbeciles,” (…) “ I want to tell these people to be careful and not come to us after getting bitten.”

According to a study recently made by Barclays, “the average UK adult is a victim of fraud twice in their lives and will have been targeted 11 times in the past year.” (…) ” The words “stupid” and “angry” are commonly used.” (…) “Victims of fraud reported feeling stupid (31 per cent), victimised (23 per cent), helpless (13 per cent) and gullible (12 per cent). As a result, the effect online fraud has on a victim’s life is profound as over half (52 per cent) kept it a secret from their friends and family. Furthermore, a quarter (25 per cent) didn’t confide in their partner and five per cent actually ended up splitting up, following the scam.”
Online fraud costs society over a hundred billion dollars in losses each year.  Online fraud creates a major disruption in all the society levels.  Instead of a proactive approach meant to stop the fraud, we see only shields built to avoid responsibility.

In the real world, the banks will say they educate their users to prevent them from being victims and they have no legal obligation to return victim losses if that victim decided to pay a frauster.  Online patforms like social, professional or dating sites have huge disclaimers forcing their users to accept that the site has no responsibility if anyone gets scammed on their platforms.  Law enforcement will usually say they have no jurisdiction overseas, and since the victim is in one country and the scammer in another one, there is not much they can do.

In the scam world, the infrastructure of online fraud – fake profiles, virtual phone numbers, email addresses, fake sites – expands because there are no valid and functional mechanisms in place to stop fraudsters from using it to their own advantage.  For every cent an online fraudster gets, there is a real person losing it. Again, we are talking about over a hundred billion dollars, with the amount increasing year after year.

There is an entire paralel “industry” of pretend organisations, agencies and so called private detectives groups offering help and support only if the victim can afford to pay for it.  With few exceptions, this is just another scam on a victim who might have already lost everything and is desperately searching for a way to solve the problems the fraudsters left them with.

Most of the online frauds are never reported to anyone.  Firstly, because society abandoned the victim and there is nothing left for that victim to recover – blame and shame will never do any good to no one.  Secondly, because the ones indirectly helping the scammer to defraud victims will do nothing to stop the ways the fraudsters use for leaving their victim peniless.  In time, this situation will backfire and we will have more and more victims paying the price for a society that is so busy pretending that it has forgotten its basic meaning: defend their citizens.  From a legal point of view, an unreported crime means there is no crime – easy to pretend no one needs to do anything about it.

The victims of online fraud are part of a silent community, while each unreported online fraud will give the scammer what he needs: time to develop and grow until a level when he not only learns how to hide better, but also how to defraud better.  Keeping quiet about it only aggravates the situation.  Until society and its so called defending mechanisms will work properly – if that ever happens – the victims have just one way of solving the problem: speak. Remember that the scammer you don’t expose today will create more victims tomorrow.  If we stop pretending that we are not victims and talk about it, in time maybe others will be able to do so as well.