Why should I report being defrauded?

You will note the use of the word defrauded. This is what it is, fraud. You are most likely only one of many such victims. Your loss may be relatively small, but annually hundreds, if not thousands, of victims are defrauded in online scams. You loss may be smallish, but adding these losses together, we quickly find ourselves looking at astronomical losses.

Under-reporting by victims and success by fraudsters empowers cyber criminals and emboldens then to target members of the public even more brazenly. Indirectly not reporting it allows the criminal to simply escalate his scams.

Yet sadly these losses are mostly not reported. There are various reasons:

  • - The victim thinks nothing will come of the incident.
  • - The victim thinks it's not so serious.
  • - Some victims are incorrectly shown away at SAPS.
  • - The victim simply does not have the time or energy.

Let us look at each of these issues.

The victim thinks nothing will come of the incident.

These incidents are investigated if reported to SAPS and the details sent to ScamPup. A lot of hard work goes into linking incidents that may appear unconnected. A lot of smaller losses that can be linked, quickly adds up to become a class one criminal case. Specialized staff at SAPS investigate incidents on a priority basis to do damage control. As more and more cases are reported and losses are linked to a scammer or group of scammers, the higher priority it gets. ScamPup assists in filling in the gaps to link cases if such information exists and making sure SAPS knows about it. Further SABRIC is also notified of such incidents. Also, if no SAPS case number exists, the SABRIC and the banks can not freeze any account used to receive the fraudulently obtained monies. Doing so exposes them to civil action. At worst they can regard the account with suspicion and monitor it.

The victim thinks it's not so serious.

If a scammer is caught, typically a scam indictment is just the start his problems. Scammers use fake identities to achieve anonymity, yet this in itself may be their undoing. Registering a cell phone with fake details may lead to a fine of up to R2M (two million rands) or 10 years imprisonment as per Section 51 of the RICA ACT. It is not uncommon for these scammers to deceive pensioners or other luckless victims in work from home scams (called money mule scams) to launder their money for them. In the process, as we said, we encounter money laundering. Money laundering once again puts these criminals in the scope of POCA (Prevention of Organised Crime Act). Fraud already did that. So did circumventing RICA. Then of course we have the Consumer Protection Act of 2008 … and off we go adding yet more charge that buries our scammer even more deeply in his well deserved woes, if he is caught.

In a nutshell, your report may just lead to the criminal being removed from civilized society for more than a bit of time.

Many victims have commented on personality changes observed on the side of the fraudster and verbal abuse, once the fraudster realizes the victim has caught on to his scam. It is also not uncommon that once the suspect is apprehended, scams are the least of his issues. We typically encounter drug peddling and other types of criminality, even human trafficking and worse! The truth is many of these scammers have zero respect for civilized society as we know it with their online scams only being the merest indicator of an animal in human guise.

Some victims are incorrectly shown away at SAPS.

Sadly ScamPup receives feedback from time to time that victims have been shown away at Police Stations. The relevant officers at these stations have no understanding of cyber-crime, believing the scammer to be a legitimate person with a real pet/item/service and that a legitimate business transaction has gone wrong. They then tend to claim this to be a civil case. It is not! If the item being sold does not exist, it is fraud and fraud is defined as a crime under South African law. ScamPup makes provision for such incidents and victims can still report being scammed to us, just select the correct option in the form. We have successfully intervened in the past under these circumstances with corrective action being taken by SAPS.

The victim simply does not have the time or energy.

It is important that these cases be reported immediately. In the process you are not only increasing the chances of the scammer being apprehended, you are also assisting in disrupting the scam and allowing for the mechanisms the scammer uses to be destroyed while being recorded, making it harder for him to scam the next victim. Quick reporting may even cause the stolen monies to be frozen in the abused bank account. Further we may list details pertinent to the scammer, effectively allowing other potential victims to be warned away.

You are not just another victim

Please accept our assurance that your report will not be treated as just another war story. We have no time to read war stories, we can tell your war story much better than you can as we know all it's possible twists and endings. We are fighting crime and that is why we need your information and case number to assist you and the public. Imagine you giving us all the details enabling us to trace a scammer and us having no case number; the scammer goes off free to scam again.

Your report is important!

Thank you for your cooperation. Please report being defrauded in cyber crime.