What to Do if You've been Scammed

Unfortunately, if you have been scammed, the chances of recovering your money are not good. Professional scammers tend to be highly mobile, they may not have given you their real identity, they tend not to provide solid contact information, and they probably are not legally registered to do business. Many are expert at operating in gray areas of the law. They may have talked you into signing a contract that puts you at a serious disadvantage.

Recognize that you have been scammed

Often, the victim of a scam is in denial. He or she doggedly continues to believe in the criminal and the scheme, because it is too traumatic to admit that the money that has already been paid is gone for good. The cons understand this, and they keep coming back for more. All too often, the scam goes on until the victim has lost every last dime.

Report the scam to police and/or local prosecutors

Fraud and theft are criminal matters, and your county or district attorney has primary jurisdiction. Internet crimes can also be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the FBI. Internet crimes tend to be cross-jurisdictional, and investigators from this agency and others have access to IC3 reports.

Do not fall for a "recovery" scam

Don't give anybody any MORE money on the promise that they will get your lost money back. It's just another scam. Don't believe them if they say they are from a governmental agency and they want you to "play along" with a "sting" by giving the crooks any more money. No real agency operates this way.

Cease all contact with the scammer immediately

If you have become involved with an international Internet scam, stop responding and block the sender. We urge you to refrain from responding to any emails or letters from addresses you cannot confirm or from entities you do not recognize.

Report scams to online auctions or host sites

Some Internet clearinghouses and auctions do make an effort to help consumers who are scammed by businesses operating through their sites. It is worth contacting any major site through which you contacted a business or individual that you think has cheated you.

Educate yourself - it is your best protection

We cannot overemphasize the importance of not falling for a scam in the first place. The sad fact is, the vast majority of people scammed simply never see their money again.

 

Revised: May 06 2010