SCARS Official Standard: Ethics In Scam Reporting
APPROVED OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF THE ETHICS IN SCAM REPORTING PROJECT COMMITTEE
STATUS: APPROVED August 11, 2016
APPROVED OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF THE ETHICS IN SCAM REPORTING PROJECT COMMITTEE
An Official Standards Committee of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. www.AgainstScams.org
Standard for Ethics in Scam Reporting
STATUS: APPROVED 2016-08-11 / REVISED 2019-12-06
Ethics in Scam Reporting Project Mission Statement
This mission of the Ethics In Scam Reporting Project is to define, develop, publish, and maintain ethical standards applying to the investigation, identification, and reporting of suspected online fraud and “fraudsters,” and the false or deceptive profiles, pages, or other means they use to engage in criminal activities online in social media, dating and relationship websites and applications, and other websites.
Display of Fraudsters:
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to the reporting or display of Fraudsters on websites, social media, messaging, print, or other means visible to the public, or a subset of the public, for the purposes of alerting potential Victims or other persons who will benefit from their identification.
No Fraudsters, Real or Fake, will be posted or identified in public without one or more of the following:
- has disclosure or information from the Fraudster that presents a false identity to the Victim, such as the use of a stolen photographs or identity; messages or any communications that attempt to defraud, such as: ask for money, services, other items of value, or the intent to relay money on behalf of the Fraudster.
- or has executed or completed an Online, Email, or other Fraud, where the Fraudster received monies or items of value under false pretenses from the Victim.
- or where the identifying person has a reasonable suspicion that the person identified is a Fraudster, identified the person as a Suspected Fraudster, and provides direct access to or includes the information or materials that can confirm that suspicion.
That the person making the accusation will have reasonable evidence or proof of one or all of these in their possession that the person identified is a Fake or Real Fraudster, and has include these when the Fraudster is posted or identified in public. Failure to provide such proof will be considered a violation of this Standard.
The accusation of a person as a Fraudster is being done for the greater good of the public in the avoidance of Online or other Frauds, and with no malicious intent. In the event of a report of error in the identification, the party receiving the report of the error shall make a considered effort to remove the post or other identification of the Fraudster until a more complete determination can be made.
The website, social media page, group, or account, or other location where the Fraudster is reported, displayed, or identified, must prominently identify if the reported, displayed, or identified Fraudster’s Data are distributed to any other websites, social media, or other locations. If the Fraudster Data is not distributed to any other websites, social media, or other locations, it must clearly state this.
This identification will use standardized language and graphics to be determined by the standard as a part of required display clauses.
Identification or Display of Victims
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to the identification or display of Victims, either Primary or principal Victims, or Secondary or additional Victims being reported or displayed on websites, social media, messaging, print, or other means visible to the public, or a subset of the public, for the purposes of alerting other potential Victims or other persons who will benefit from their identification.
It is the intent of this clause that Victims will be protected in all ways possible, from public exposure and identification, additional humiliation, and risks of additional harm.
It is acknowledged that by necessity Impersonation Victims will be displayed as part of the act of Displaying of Fraudsters per Article 1. However, every effort will be made to minimize the impact on Secondary Victims that may be included in Stolen Content used by the Fraudster.
It is further acknowledged that third-parties and Victims may be reporting Fraudsters, and as a part of that reporting process, their reports may include information and Stolen Content that is prohibited. Adherents to this Standard shall employ review and reporting processes to aid in the identification of prohibited Stolen Content and remove it.
The following are prohibited from display:
- Indecent Images or Videos. Generally accepted indecent (showing genitals or full nudity) photography or videos either from a Primary or Secondary Victim are prohibited. The only exception will be photography or videos that were previously and intentionally made public, through their Profession as in the case where Secondary Victims have published Adult Content (such as Adult Models, Webcam Girls, or Pornographic Actors). No such photography or videos of non-professional Primary or Secondary Victims will be displayed
- Minor Children. The display of Stolen Content Containing Children is prohibited. Display of Stolen Content of Adults only is permitted. Where the age of a Secondary Victim cannot be reasonably determined the Stolen Content will not be displayed. For the purpose of this Standard a Minor Child is under the age of 18 years.
- Family Members. The display of Stolen Content Containing Family Members is prohibited except where it is reasonably necessary to identify the Fraudster. If a Fraudster is using Stolen Content from an individual (Secondary Victim) but all photography contains Family Members, then these would need to be display to properly identify the Fraudster.
- Identification of the Primary Victim. Displaying information or photos or videos that identify the Primary Victim are prohibited without the permission, direction, or authorization of the Primary Victim, unless the identification is by the Primary Victim themself.
Additional requirements associated with the display of Victims:
When receiving reports, comments, and/or content from Victims or third-parties it is required to display the following on the Website, Social Media, Application, or Other locations.
- Statement of Intent to Display. The Entity (Website, Social Media, Application, or Other) Operator (Owner, Administrator, or other participant) that accepts the reporting of information about the Fraudster must display a disclaimer stating that they “Intend to Display” the information, including photos that have been reported about the Fraudster. If they re-display information provided by a Victim or other party then they must make it clear that they will re-display this information or content.
- Statement of Where It Will Be Displayed. The Entity that accepts the report must identify where the information or content will be displayed, such as their Website(s), Social Media, on Applications, or other affiliated online locations. This Statement need not name each individual location, but cover all types of locations to provide a clear understanding on the part of the person providing the information where it will be used.
- Statement of Process of Revocation. The Entity that accepts the report must identify a process that the reporting individual can request that the information be removed, and what will occur after the request for removal or revocation has been made. This Standard does not require that requests for removal or revocation will be honored and performed, only that the process is documented and identified. If the Entity may refuse the request, this must be clearly identified as a part of the Statement.
- Statement of Ownership. The Entity that accepts the report must identify who will be the owner of the reported information or content, subject to international copyright and other intellectual property law.
Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations Education & Victim Support Activities
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations that engage in one or more activities to aid consumers and the public avoid Online Fraud or Recover from its effects.
It is the intent of this clause that the public will be provided with a clear understanding of the Anti-Scam Group’s or Organization’s credentials as they engage in their public statements, educational campaigns, enforcement activities, or Victim’s support.
Types (Taxonomy) of Groups or Organizations
Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must identify what type of Group or Organization they are. They may combine these if they meet the required criteria:
Anti-Scam Social Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that engages in discussion and social commentary about Online Fraud and Fraudsters. It may engage in identification and cataloging of Fraudsters, as well as critique of Fraudster techniques and methodologies.
Anti-Scam Educational Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that is substantially involved in the dissemination, display, and publishing of educational material relating to Online Fraud and Fraudsters. It creates Original Educational Materials and Content, or is authorized to use Educational Content from others. They must provide substantial and meaningful original educational content or authorized to reproduce others original educational content relating to Online Frauds and Fraudsters.
Anti-Scam Victims Support Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that provides true Victims Support activities consistent with a recognized or accredited Support or Recovery Program. A Group or Organization consisting of people with common experiences or concerns who provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice.
Anti-Scam News or Media Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that engages in the display and publishing of news and information about Online Fraud and Fraudsters.
Anti-Scam Data Collection or Reporting Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that is involved in the collection of Online Fraud & Fraudster data for re-display and or distribution. The Online Fraud and Fraudster Data is collected in a database.
Anti-Scam Fraudster Exposure Group or Organization
This is a Group or Organization that is involved in the collection or cataloging of Fraudsters for the purpose of exposure and assisting Prospective Victims and Victims identify or confirm that they were communicating with a Suspected or Reported Fraudster. The Online Fraud and Fraudster Data is not collected in a database.
- All-encompassing body – such as SCARS
- Government or Law Enforcement Entity
This is an entity that is a unit, agency, department, or branch of an official Government.
Group or Organization Credentials
- Identify Standards and or Best Practices that the Group or Organization has adopted, been certified in, been accredited in, and or audited for. Such identification must be clearly displayed in the manner appropriate for the Body that controls or maintains the Standard or Best Practice.
- Identify if, and any members of the Group or Organization have any formal training in law enforcement, medicine & nursing, victims support, computer security or forensics, counter intelligence, psychology, counseling, recovery programs, or other related skill sets that might be appropriate to the audience reviewing or receiving the work of the Group or Organization.
- Group or Organization history, including the following:
3.a. How and why the Group or Organization was founded, such as triggering events.
3.b. When the Group or Organization was founded, meaning when it began activities related to Online Fraud and Fraudsters; when it became incorporated or other legal registrations.
3.c. Identify who were the founding Principal Individuals.
3.d. Factual statement of historical accomplishments & milestones.
Group or Organization Educational Activities
- Provide a clear statement about the Anti-Scam Group’s or Organization’s educational activities.
- Provide a clear Mission Statement.
- Declare the Official Language of the Group or Organization so that the audience or those that use the information provided by the Group or Organization can understand if the published language is not the native language of the Group or Organization.
Group or Organization Communications
- The Group or Organization will engage in professional communications with its audience, viewers, and all others at all times.
- The Group or Organization will provide clear, visible instructions on how to communicate with the Group or Organization. This will include what communications are accepted and by what means, and provide an indication of the response time.
Group or Organization Victims Support Activities
- Identify the Support Methodology or Program the Group or Organization follow in its Support activities.
- Identify if the Group or Organization is authorized by the Provider of the Support Methodology or Program.
- Identify if the Group or Organization is trained by the Provider of the Support Methodology or Program.
- Identify if the Group or Organization is certified by the Provider of the Support Methodology or Program.
- Victims’ Assistance and Support Activities must be in compliance with the NOVA Standard form the National Organization for Victims Assistance.
- All Victims’ Assistance and Support Organizations must have permanent staff trained in Victims’ Assistance and Certified by their Government or NOVA.
- All Victims’ Assistance and Support Organizations must be registered with the relevant government overseeing legal compliance for this type of organization.
Group or Organization Audience or Viewer Reviews & Comments
- The Group or Organization must provide a mechanism for public comments about its effectiveness in its Educational and Support activities.
- The Group or Organization must display on its website, social media, or other medium the public comments about its effectiveness in its Educational and Support activities.
Group or Organization Intellectual Property Commitments
- The Group or Organization must respect the intellectual property of others, including trademarks and copyrights.
- The Group or Organization must not engage in plagiarism or copyright theft, and must comply with copyright law and international conventions.
- The Group or Organization may only engage in fair use as legally permitted by law with clear declarations and credit sources.
Group or Organization Supporting Good Habits
- The Group or Organization must support and reinforce good practices and habits by the audience reviewing or receiving the work of the Group or Organization.
- The Group or Organization must not engage in or endorse any activity or behavior that expands, promotes, or increases the knowledge or skills of Fraudsters.
- The Group or Organization must, to the extent possible, enforce lawful behavior by itself and its audience or viewers. This specifically means that it may not utilize fraud or deception in its activities and practices.
Group or Organization Promoting Appropriate Fraudster Reporting Practices
- The Group or Organization will promote Best Practice Fraudster Reporting processes to its audience or viewers, including reporting processes sanctioned by the Committee and or its affiliated Sanctioning Standards Body.
- The Group or Organization will actively encourage all victims to report Online Frauds and Fraudsters to their Local and or National Law Enforcement, involved businesses (including banks & money transfer agents), and to pursue criminal complaints with the Fraudster host country as well.
Anti-Scam Organization Honesty & Ethical Behavior
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to the ethical and honest behaviors and operations of Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations. It defines prohibited actions, activities, or behaviors that serve to deceive or detract from the goal of Anti-Scam Groups or Organization.
Its intent is to define actions, activities, and behaviors that are contrary to the common good and to the public interest in working to minimize the impact of Online Fraud. It also intends to promote the honest sharing of information about Online Frauds and Fraudsters, while restricting hostile or defamatory communications by Groups or Organizations, and boasting about themselves.
Honest & Ethical Behaviors & Statements
1. Honest Presentation
No Anti-Scam Group or Organization will engage in online practices that are intended to deceive the public; these include paying third-parties to pad or expand operation dynamics such as: paid clicks, paid backlinks, paid social media shares or likes, paid posts, padding membership or visitors artificially through external third-parties, or paid third-party-content.
2. Honest Ownership
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations will clearly state their ownership. They will indicate who owns the website, social media page or group or profile, and other media. They will indicate if the Group or Organization is owned by a business (for profit or non-profit) or individual(s). The owning entity will be identified by name, and provide its mailing address for notices.
This will include the ownership of websites, domain names, social media, other media, copyrights, and trademarks.
Fake or false identities are prohibited under this Standard without a formal or legal filing for that purpose, such as a D.B.A. (doing business as) or trading as.
3. Honest Management
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations will clearly state their management or administration. They will indicate who manages or administers the website, social media page or group or profile, and other media. They will indicate the Group or Organization managers or administrators for each specific website, social media, or other media by individual(s) identified by name and a means of contact. The owning entity will identify the identities of manager(s) or administrator(s) for all published websites, social media, or media.
Individuals that decline to be identified may not act in a management or administrator capacity for a website, social media, or other media.
If a Group or Organization is owned, managed, or administered by employees of a business, only the principal manager or administrator need be identified. However, if the Group is not owned by a business and is jointly owned and operated by a group of unincorporated individuals, all such individuals must be identified.
Fake or false identities are prohibited under this Standard without a formal or legal filing for that purpose, such as a D.B.A. (doing business as).
4. Ethical Communications & Statements
No Anti-Scam Group or Organization will engage in defamatory speech, commentary, or language for the purpose of attacking others. No Anti-Scam Group or Organization will engage in non-factual boasting for the purpose of deception of Scam Victims, or competition.
In the event of a situation where a Group or Organization engages in behavior contrary to this Standard, the offending Group or Organization will be identified and reported to the Committee for review and disciplinary action as appropriate and or at its option, the Committee may refer the reported Group or Organization to appropriate third-parties, such as the United States Federal Trade Commission.
No Anti-Scam Group or Organization may make statements regarding claimed arrests of Fraudsters or related persons, or money recovery of any kind for any victim, without providing reasonable proof. This does not require disclosure of confidential relationships, however proof in some form that can be seen is required. Groups or Organizations may not engage in any statements which could reasonably lead the public into believing that the Group or Organization was responsible for arrests or money recovery without the required proof.
5. Honest & Ethical Promotion
Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations may engage in honest, ethical, and factual promotion or advertising which helps the public to understand the services that the Group or Organization provides, their milestones, their successes, their history, or other information, as long as it is not for the purpose of defaming another Group or Organization.
6. Ethical Competition
It is recognized that the public will seek information about Online Fraud and Fraudsters from many sources. No Anti-Scam Group or Organization should be possessive of their audience or visitors, and may not engage in statements, language, or speech that will seek to defame other Groups or Organizations for the purpose of holding an audience for their benefit.
7. Unauthorized Use of Content
Content is defined to include: graphics, photos, trademarks, designs, and written text. All such content is recognized to be subject to copyright and or trademark protections.
No Anti-Scam Group or Organization will use, share, copy, plagiarize, infringe, duplicate, or other exploit the content from another Group or Organization without the authorization of the originating or source Group or Organization, regardless of means or mechanisms provided by technology. All use, sharing, coping, plagiarizing, infringing, duplicating, or other exploiting the content from another Group or Organization with authorization must refer to or properly credit the originating or source Group or Organization as defined by the originating or source Group or Organization.
No Group or Organization may claim ownership or copyright or Fraudster created content, this includes: emails, photos, links, or other media. Only in the event that the Fraudster created content is enhanced, embellished, modified, or improved, may it be considered a new work and subject to ownership.
8. Identification of Business or Affiliate Relationships
Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must identify business and or affiliate relationships when the Group or Organization financially benefits, including, but not limited to: advertising, revenue sharing, commissions, rewards, or royalties. This includes sponsoring organizations, such as Dating or Relationship Websites, Social Media Businesses, Marketing Companies, or others that may directly impact the public faith in the Group or Organization.
9. Identification of the Funding Sources for the Group or Organization
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must provide a statement identifying how the Group or Organization is funded or financed, in other words who is paying the bills. Identification of individual donors is not required as long as identification of the types of donors is provided if required for confidentiality.
10. Reporting of Unethical Groups or Organizations
All adherents to this Standard are required to report Groups or Organizations that engage in violations of this Article to the Committee or to SCARS.
This section requires that individuals be identified by name and provide a means of contact. It does not require personal contact information, unless the Group has no other means of contact or address for notices.
11. Exemption for Fake or Fraudster Groups or Organization
The Sections of this Article do not apply to Groups or Organizations that have been identified as being operated or owned by known, reported, or suspected Fraudster(s).
Public, Audience, Visitor, & Member Protection
1. Screening for Fraudsters
All Anti-Scam Groups & Organizations are required to employ appropriate safeguards to reasonably protect their audiences, visitors, and members from access by Fraudsters by means considered to be Best Practices.
2. Best Practices
These Best Practices include, but are not limited to: Frequent (at least monthly) screening for Fraudsters, country restrictions, IP and origin blocking, banning, and other screening and blocking methods appropriate for the website, social media, or other media within the limitation of the technology or provided features.
Anti-Scam Data Collection Methods
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations and the data, information, and or images (photos) that they collect and present in one or more activities to aid consumers and the public avoid Online Fraud or recover from its effects.
It is the intent of this clause that the public will be provided with a clear understanding of how the Anti-Scam Group or Organization collects and distributes Anti-Scam Data & Images, and the reporting consumer’s rights associated with the information that they report.
1. Collection of Anti-Scam Data
Anti-Scam Groups and Organizations that collect Fraudster Data and or Images must identify the process of their collection. This includes:
- Defining how this data is collected and maintained. Such as if it is maintained in a database or other means.
- Defining what security measures are provided to keep it secure. This should provide a description of the security measures employed.
- If the reporting person’s information is displayed or maintained confidential.
2. Distribution of Anti-Scam Data
If the Fraudster data and or images that are collected as a result of individuals making reports are distributed to third-parties, a description of this distribution process must be provided and prominently displayed. It is not required that all means or end-points be identified, but the overall process and networks involved must be defined and identified.
3. Revision & Removal of Anti-Scam Data
Anti-Scam Group or Organization that accept reports of Fraudster information must provide a description of the process for making edits or revisions, or removal of that information reported.
- Describe the process to make or request changes to the data or information or images reported – if any.
- Describe the process to make or request removal of the data or information or images reported – if any.
- Describe the process to make or request that the data or information or images be hidden from public view – if any.
This section does not require that there be a process for editing, removal, or hiding the data or information or images; only that any process of the Anti-Scam Group or Organization be described so that the consumer may understand that process, or if there is no process.
4. Restrictions on Anti-Scam Data
Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations that have restrictions on the use of the data or information or images must describe those limitations, such as prohibitions against copying or sharing that data, information, or images.
5. Ownership of Anti-Scam Data
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must have a clearly visible policy statement that describes the ownership of the data or information or images reported or provided by consumers in making Fraudster reports.
All Anti-Scam Groups and Organizations must acknowledge that they have a non-exclusive use of any unmodified reported data, information, or images. Only in the event that those data or information or images are modified may the Group or Organization claim any ownership, however the act of distributing that data or information or images to other websites, social media, or locations releases any claims of ownership.
This does not apply to original works of the Anti-Scam Group or Organization.
6. Identification of Images Used by Fraudsters
No Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations may present photos that have been stolen from Secondary Victims in such a way that a viewer could be confused about the fact that the photo was stolen and used without authorization by a Fraudster.
This requires one of the following:
- A Watermark identifying the photo as stolen.
- A caption explaining that it is a stolen photo.
- Other headline identifying all photos on the web page, social media page, or other media are all stolen photos.
7. Adult Content
No Anti-Scam Group or Organization may purposefully display or present Adult Content displaying nudity. Further the Group or Organization must engage in a process to regularly review their Data, Information, and Images for Adult Content.
Privacy & Disclosure Requirements
This clause of the Ethics in Scam Reporting Standard applies to the Privacy and additional Disclosure Requirements of Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations. It defines required disclosures and policies that serve to support the goal of Anti-Scam Groups or Organization. Its intent is to define requirements for the common good and to the public interest in working to minimize the impact of Online Fraud. It also intends to promote the honest sharing of information about Online Frauds and Fraudsters, while clearly stating additional intentions and any commercial benefits to the Anti-Scam Group or Organization.
Relationships with For-profit Businesses or Industry
All Anti-Scam Groups & Organizations must describe their commercial and business relationships as follows:
- Identify if the Anti-Scam Group or Organization is a registered business and if for profit, not-for-profit, or non-profit as defined by their government
- Identify if the Anti-Scam Group or Organization is a subsidiary, unit, or division of another business and what the nature of that business is
- Identify if the Anti-Scam Group or Organization has any relationship with businesses or services where the public may be at risk from online fraud, namely: Online Dating or Relationship Sites, Social Media, or related to sites where an individual may be connected to another individual who could be fake or false
- All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must provide their Privacy and other policies in the predominant language of their audience
- All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must identify their privacy policies and other appropriate terms and conditions on websites, social media pages, groups, and other appropriate media
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must identify their mission statement on websites, social media pages, groups, and other appropriate media.
Code of Conduct
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must identify their Code of Conduct statement on websites, social media pages, groups, and other appropriate media.
Suitability for Minors
All Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations must place a statement on their websites, social media, and other media that their content Is Not Suitable for Minors.
Sexism & Racism in the Activities of Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations
The Committee for the Ethics in Scam Reporting’s policy is to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination.
The Committee rejects all forms of racism or sexism. It is committed to the elimination of racial or sex-based prejudice or discrimination in Anti-Scam Groups or Organizations. This includes direct and indirect racism or sexism, racial or sexual vilification and harassment – in all aspects of the Anti-Scamming environment and publications.
This Standard aims at creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person feels a part of the community and feels able to contribute to the Group, or Organization.
Copyright & Ownership Statement
This document was developed by the Members of the Committee for Ethics in Scam Reporting Project and is copyright © 2016-2020 by the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
No additional authorizations or permissions for use are provided without the written authorization from SCARS.
Approved All Articles – August 11, 2016
Word Changed – Article 1 – Target to Intent – August 13, 2016
Typo corrected – Article 2 – August 14, 2016
2017 Committee Membership – January 2017
NOVA Additions – January 2018
2018 Committee Membership – January 2018
Copyright Update – January 2018
Revisions – December 2019
The foregoing document is Copyright © 2016-2020 by the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. – Copyright transferred to SCARS September 1, 2016