The Need For Professionalism : The SCARS Thesis

The Reason For SCARS™

Real Victims Support & Assistance

Let’s Describe What Real Victims’ Assistance, Support, And Advocacy Actually Is

Victim assistance programs vary significantly but generally provide services to victims as they recover from the crime and proceed through the criminal justice process. Attempts to meet victims’ needs have been forged on two fronts: Victims’ rights advocates lobby for and assert the rights of victims to have a primary role in the administration of justice, while community support groups attempt to address the personal crises that may follow from victimization. (SCARS engages in both.)

What Should A Victims’ Assistance Provider Be?

A Victims’ Assistance provider could be any group or organization that is professionally trained, certified, and registered with their government as a real crime victims’ assistance organization. That would obviously not be a quack.

Worldwide there are only a handful of such organizations that focus on online crime or cybercrime victims – two in the United States (SCARS), one in Japan (M-Step a SCARS Partner), one in Scandinavia, one in China (SCARS|CHINA), one in Indonesia (WSC a SCARS Partner), one I Japan, one in Thailand, and two in the United Kingdom (such as Friends Against Scams). Needless to say there are thousands of such organizations that help other kinds of crime victims just in the United States alone.

There are crime victim assistance entities that focus on different types of crime – all of them being tax-exempt nonprofit incorporated companies as well as the professionals that work with them (or their volunteers.)

These victim assistance organizations and professionals cover a multitude of different victim types for crimes such as:

  • Violent assault survivors
  • Rape / sexual assault victims
  • Child abuse victims
  • Human trafficking victims
  • Slavery victims
  • Cybercrime victims (such as SCARS)
  • Drunk driving victims (such as MADD)
  • Racism and hate victims
  • Terrorism victims
  • Holocaust victims
  • Genocide victims
  • Refugees
  • Financial crime victims (which also includes SCARS)
  • Insurance and other basic fraud victims

In each type of crime, each victim will have unique needs and requirements. The degree of professionalization will also vary depending on the specifics.

For example, in the case of financial crimes, victims may need the support of forensic accountants and examiners, tax professionals, etc. In the case of insurance fraud, there would be a need for certified adjusters and attorneys. Each category brings unique requirements for professionalism in the support of victims. Of course, there are also the psychological aspects of supporting these victims as well, and the need for professional licensed counselors and therapists, or support groups.

Supporting these victims varies by crime category. In the case of most crimes, there are attorneys and other professionals that victims can talk to about the specifics of their case – this is actually a form of support. Law enforcement plays a large role in helping to clarify both the crime and the probable outcomes. Followed by professional mental health support and/or formalized victims’ support groups. Except in the case of cybercrime victims – they have historically only had amateurs to turn to.

In most countries and U.S. states, most of these professional occupations are highly regulated activities requiring professional or occupational licenses. Failing to have the proper licenses is, in most cases, a crime. In the case of victims’ assistance, it is similar though not as well developed yet. A majority of U.S. states are exploring professional licensing of victims’ assistance providers and advocates with the need for serious credentials and certifications. Certainly, most local victims’ advocates are required to have professional training before they can support local victims referred to them by law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is not yet universal or enforced. This allows almost anyone to claim they are a victims’ advocate or crime expert without any formalized training, certification, or even real knowledge. 

Real victims advocates on either the local level or larger territory are out there every day putting themselves on the line personally helping real victims – they struggle with the funding needed to perform real work, with the organizational licenses and registrations, and even the liability insurance needed.

What About Trauma?

Emotional trauma is a common element for nearly EVERY victim. Some traumas you never ‘get over’ but you can learn ways to cope. Yet amateur and fake groups have no idea how these processes work or how to competently help. They focus and feed on victims’ anger, denial, and depression – often making them worse.

The global system of justice is not a fast process, from the discovery of the crime and before an investigation (if you get one) to prosecution to the incarceration of a perpetrator. The Justice System is deliberately slow at nearly every level. This commonly surprises victims who expect ‘swift justice.’ In many cases, there simply is no justice in the traditional sense.

It is typical for victims to experience secondary trauma. Secondary trauma is emotional pain caused by the people and processes from whom victims seek help. This can happen because of the system’s slowness, incompetencies, and just the fact that you are working with humans. But we seek to eliminate or reduce this to the maximum extent possible.

Few will understand the struggle and frustration that victims face. This can include family and close friends. It is helpful for some victims to find others like them for support and understanding, except far too many find it in the form of fake, amateur, and incompetent groups professing to be experts – in other words: “Quacks.”.

Why Talk About This Issue?

In all areas of professionalism, as the need for better care advances, it exposes the fakes, charlatans, imposters, pretenders, and frauds.

This is true in all areas of professional endeavor – from science to engineering to construction to health, and so much more.

Professionals recognize the need for collaboration and cooperation. As each endeavor becomes more formalized the need to aggregate professionalism increases. 

A Comparison

The Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams in an incorporated tax-exempt nonprofit, that is affiliated or partnered with governments, universities, and bodies worldwide. Our leadership holds professional certifications in cybersecurity and cybercrime, as well as victims’ assistance. SCARS identifies its leadership and its actual experience in the subject matter.

Seeking Like-Minded Professionals

Our organization is proud to represent victims directly or through our Member Groups. Collectively we reach large numbers of victims a month on the web and social media. 

The Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams has been successful because we bring professionalism and standards to the practice of supporting online crime victims. We seek like-minded groups and individuals to join with us in the furtherance of professional development for everyone’s collective benefit. We allow membership in our organization for free and encourage professional development and certification as a cause. We have developed a real Code of Conduct for our members and affiliated professionals and also conform to the NOVA standards and guidelines, as well as undergoing professional) training programs.

With an estimated 65 million romance scam victims alone worldwide, and over 15 million in the United States, the time has come for competent standards-based support across the board. The time has come for a professional standards body to aid in the establishment of realistic Occupational Licensing requirements throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Europe. For the last year, we have been working in China for the development of such a model. Now we need to elevate this requirement across the globe.

We are pleased to be working with organizations worldwide in the creation of such a new Standards Body.

A Little Background

We have extensive experience in the development of standards and supporting regulations.

Our founder was an active participant and co-author of the U.S. HIPAA and GLBA regulations. In fact, our founder was Co-Chair of one of the two HIPAA Standards Bodies that defined the way all healthcare information is transmitted, secured, and kept private in the United States. Similarly for financial privacy & security. He was a subject matter expert for numerous local and state governments, and the Federal Government as well, and worked directly with major international consulting services organizations such as PWC, DynCorp, and others for more than a decade.

Our experience encompassed the cybersecurity standards in the U.S. Department of Defense as well. In 2004 advising on the issues that confronted social media in that day we worked to develop regulations to protect our children online in the form of the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, while both helping to impose sanctions on MySpace and then professionally helping them directly survive the process.

The Need For A New Body

The Society believes that there is now a clear and present need for a new body to establish global occupational licensing standards and requirements in victims’ assistance. We have already reached out to organizations of similar orientation to join us in the establishment of such a body.

It is our hope that a new consortium can be fully formed in the coming months to create and evolve such a new regulatory standards body.

If you are part of or represent an organization that has a “dog in this hunt” we encourage you to reach out to us (

We ask to work together to establish the missing professional operational standards and best practices and work with states and international governments to codify occupational licensing for competent victims’ assistance on both the professional and volunteer levels.

Additional Benefits

Once the occupational standards are created and applied, then victims’ assistance for scam victims will be better able to coordinate with law enforcement in both the enforcement of the law and also with governments for more effective financial assistance programs.

It will also make it easier to rectify the obvious flaws in the current social media and web platforms for the safety of the public as a whole.

Today, only SCARS is working on these issues, but once credible licensing is fully in place the consortium that created the new standards will also be able to aggregate the voices of legitimate organizations (such as SCARS) into a single voice for the benefit of victims and the public everywhere.

If you are interested in helping to move this effort forward, either as a direct participating professional or organization, or in government, or as a volunteer, please contact us.

SCARS™ – Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.