Myth 1 - Surely the anti-scam community are vigilante's with no real power?
This is a common myth which needs busting. To do this, I will do a quick comparison with another online group which takes action outside of the states governance - namely online pedophile watchdogs. Where the anti-scam community differs in this respect is that we conduct meticulous research of potential scammers and our work is peer-reviewed to prevent situations arising, such as in the first article below, where false public information is released, thus resulting in the worst possible consequences for those wrongly accused. Furthermore, online pedophile vigilante's often impede criminal investigations as outlined in the second article. The situation for us is much more positive:
https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wale ... s-15649258
The reason online anti-scam communities exist is because 419-scams transcend national boundaries and are often very complex, with many nations not having the resources or capabilities to map entire cyber-gangs. This is where we come in, wherever possible online anti-scam communities work hand-in-hand to provide research to local law enforcement agencies. Years of trust-building by consistently using reputable information and utilising close-knit contacts in law enforcement has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of arrests. Anti-scam communities of dedicated individuals have in many cases often been instrumental in educating law enforcement and providing close support when required. Instead of being vigilante's the anti-scam community is in fact a reputable watchdog and think-tank, valued widely by law enforcement.
Myth 2 - The anti-scam community is racist for exposing mostly African scammers
Unfortunately, most scams originate in developing nations with weak legislation on cyber crime and/or a weak police infrastructure. We do not "pick and choose" where the scammers are from. In fact, much of the work done by the anti-scam community reflects how scamming has changed in its nature from the lowly "Nigerian prince" scams from hand-written letters and dial-up internet to the emergence of "sakawa" and local practices which means that cyber-crime is now prevalent across Africa. Some countries have even surprisingly developed niche's, with the most evident being petscams and puppyscams more often than not originating from Cameroon and the rise of Russian romance scams. Many of the criminals producing fake websites used in 419 scams are often living away from their countries of origin, such as in the case of Cameroonian scammer Mbega Steven Etienne living in Russia on a student visa. Furthermore, many of the most valued members in the anti-scam community are themselves from Africa.
This is an interesting documentry by Vice which demonstrates how 419-scamming in Ghana has become ingrained in the local culture:
Myth 3 - Scammers are poor and have no other choice but to resort to crime. The West has robbed their wealth and resources
Interestingly, I have managed to interview scammers and this is the excuse they often use to justify their actions. They simply see what they do as a victimless crime and a bottomless pit of cash.
Scamming is, rather than putting bread into mouths, a multi-billion dollar industry. Many scammers which I have traced back to their personal social media accounts are not the impoverished individuals they claim to be. Here is an example to show just how sophisticated and rich these networks are:
https://www.thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2019/ ... ys-photos/
The South-east Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 arrested 37 suspected internet fraudsters in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The Commission said its action followed intelligence report which pointed that the suspects were living lavish lifestyles without any known means of livelihood, alleging further that they specialize in defrauding unsuspecting victims, through the internet. In the course of executing the search warrants, items which included laptop computers, 25 exotic cars, which include several brands of Mercedez-Benz, Lexus, Toyota and expensive mobile phones, were recovered.
It is also worth noting that Nigeria, the spiritual "home" of the 419 scam, is rich in natural resources however there is an abundance of state-level corruption which still unfortunately exists. This is much the same in other nations where 419 crime flourishes (EG: Cameroon and Ghana). This being said, the majority of individuals where 419 fraud originates from are law-abiding and hard working citizens whom are disgusted with the reputation that "yahoo boys" has left their country with.
Myth 4 - It's not like anything serious happens to victims?
Unfortunately 419-fraud can be a huge strain on victims emotions as well as their financial resources. This has unfortunately in many cases resulted in victims committing suicide. Romance scams are especially common for this, as illustrated in the articles below. It is therefore imperative that if you think you are part of a scam to let one of the anti-scam organisations know.
Scammers are unsympathetic, they want your money and they do not care how they get it.
https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/ ... ed-suicide
https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/on ... ess-bureau