Professionalizing Scam Victims’ Assistance

There is something that we all must be clear on.

Like it or not, all of us who are volunteering our time and energy towards helping victims of scams are engaged in a new journey.

This journey is one of professional development because we are all engaged in a new profession. This is the profession of “crime victims’ assistance.”

It goes by many different names, such as:

  • Victims’ Support
  • Victims’ Advocacy
  • Victims’ Liaison
  • Victims’ Assistance
  • Victims’ Guidance

Notice that none of these mentioned counseling or therapy. That is because those are the realm of medicine – healthcare, specifically psychology. And required professional licensing.

Also notice that we do not mention legal support or financial advice. These also require professional skills and occupational licensing.

It also does not mention exposing scammers, or scambaiting, or hating scammers – that is not what victims really need.

In order to do what we do effectively, we need to embrace the real profession that each of our SCARS Volunteers are entering. While we all do it as a volunteer – meaning we are not really being paid to do it, it is not a “Hobby” and it is not something for “Amateurs” who believe they know what they are doing. That is because we are working with fragile people in great pain who have been traumatized by their experience and we have a moral and legal obligation to “Do Our Best.”

But to be able to Do Our Best we must professionalize the work to understand what it is we are doing. We need you all to understand that while most of you are victims and want to help, the wrong help can be devastating for victims. Care is needed at all times.

Incompetent support can cause further or amplified trauma. It can trigger suicide. It can push people away from getting the care they need. None of us want to cause or be responsible for that.

However, that is the problem, what we want does not matter if we do not have the knowledge and skills to match the work we are doing. This is the central argument against amateur “pretend” anti-scam groups – what we call “Anti-Scam Hate Groups.” These groups are driven by the psychological problems of their leaders and inflict greater trauma or turn victims away from seeking proper care.

The foundation of SCARS is built on our shared goal of achieving greater professionalism to avoid doing harm to victims. This is a forever challenge. It will keep us learning and growing as professionals. But it requires a commitment – this is not a hobby.

That is not to say there is no room for casual participants. Here are some examples of casual participation:

  • Hunter/Gatherers – finding scammers online
  • Reporters – reporting profiles to Facebook
  • News Sharing – posting found articles on pages and in groups
  • Knowledge Sharing – reporting important articles (assuming they are factual and appropriate)

These are all things that Informal SCARS Volunteers are doing now – and it is vitally important. They only need to learn about how to do what they do effectively.

Once we begin communicating with traumatized victims – then we need to put on our professional hat. Then we need to be what the victim needs – if we can. We know that we cannot help all victims – in those cases (per the NOVA standard) we refer them to who we “think” can help them and wish them well – we have no choice but to do this. Unfortunately, there are so many victims possessed by their anger or living in some stage of denial that we cannot reach.

This is a central concept for all of our volunteers and even victims to consider.

What we do is serious and it requires careful consideration. Everything we do has to be looked at through this lens.

This is going to be a part of what we establish as the criteria for new people joining us in the future as volunteers or partners.


Miami Florida U.S.A.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about this in a comment or email us at

Brett Johnson, SCARS Advisory Board Member

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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. Your National Police or FBI ( »)
  3. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on »

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.

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Visit our Main SCARS Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: »

Please be sure to report all scammers on »

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