The Need For Professionalism : The SCARS Thesis
The Reason For SCARS™
Quackery, Often Synonymous With Many Different Types Of Fraud, Is The Promotion Of Fraudulent Or Ignorant Practices
DEFINITION: A “Quack” is a “fraudulent or ignorant pretender to professional skill” or “a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, qualification, or credentials they do not possess; a charlatan or snake oil salesman”. In other words, a Fake!
Common elements of general quackery include questionable recommendations for a range of approaches to everything from healthcare to legal advice, as well as untested or refuted information or treatments for mental conditions, especially for serious diseases such as PTSD or depression. Quackery is often described as “health fraud” with the salient characteristic of aggressive promotion. Except, in this case, it is Anti-Scam Quackery by leading victims to non-professional, incompetent, or incorrect solutions and advice.
Quacks also engage the overt attacking of legitimate professional service providers by name. Quacks tend to view themselves as “pure” providers because they are not encumbered by professional standards or organizations. They are purely interested in the outcome – though in truth they have no idea how to get there.
Anti-Scam Quacks are so numerous that the numbers can almost not be believed. The number in the thousands on Facebook alone.
Some are a single person hiding behind their page, others are small groups of “friends” (meaning victims) that may be well-intentioned but without any real formalization.
Many claim they are just there to see things change, to get awareness or scammers arrested. They even claim they will step away once the goal has been achieved.
Yet in many cases, they actually do more harm than good by leading victims away from real solutions and real support.
Real Victims Support & Assistance
Let’s Describe What Is 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 – one 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 in Thailand (Anti-Scam Thailand a SCARS Partner), and two in the United Kingdom (such as Friends Against Scams). Needless to say that 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 victims 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
- 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 each 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 for almost anyone to claim they are a victims’ advocate or crime expert without any formalized training, certification, or even real knowledge. This is the space that the quacks, fakes, or frauds are occupying. At the national level in the United States, the Office of Victims of Crime maintains a registry process of victims’ assistance provides, as does the National Center for Victims of Crime – to which SCARS is registered.
Of course, the hallmark of the quacks, fakes, or frauds is to talk a good story, hind behind anonymity (in some cases), have no demonstrable organization (meaning they are basically a one-man show – certainly no professional team), are not a real incorporated entity or meet any of the other myriad requirements for a real organization. However, 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.
Sometimes the line between a genuine intent to help and a quack is more subtle. It has more to do with their deception and defamation of real organizations. For example, there are countless quack and frauds that attack the Red Cross or the Salvation Army or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (or other nonprofits & NGOs). Some of their reasons may be valid, but the fact is that these are real organizations with a long history of professional accomplishments, are accessible, and mostly transparent in their operations. The same is true for SCARS.
There is a great irony in that victims are outspoken defenders of quacks and fakes and their zeal in attacking any detractor of what they believe in can be extreme. This is also the hallmark of a fake or quack in that their defenders can never really point to a single real accomplishment of the quack, fake, or pretender. Their defense is instead based upon hate, rage, and irrational rhetoric. Whereas real organizations have a track record of accomplishments.
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.
In truth, not all are these are fraudulent, some are just sincere people trying to do their best – that was true of medicine back in the early 20th century too. But even the well-intentioned can be incompetent and do harm. That is why we do not allow barbers or apprentices in Medicine any longer – a doctor or nurse must be competently educated, trained, experienced, and licensed.
In our dialogs about the risks and in fact actual dangers of amateur anti-scam groups we are focused on the potential dangers to victims. A scam victim is experiencing (in many cases) serious trauma, but they are seeking the help of people who have no idea what they are doing – who believe they have no liability either. We are trying to elevate the discourse of the subject to both create awareness in victims of the risks of involving themselves with these fake amateur quack anti-scam groups, as well as the increasing need for professional standards and even occupational licensing.
Professionals recognize the need for collaboration and cooperation, instead of alignment with other fakes. Just look at the world of organics for example and how their sphere has rapidly professionalized to exclude fakes form their industry to protect consumers from fraud and deception. As each endeavor becomes more formalize the need to aggregate professionalism increases and the need to call out the fakes, pretenders, and quacks increases. Unfortunately, consumers (or victims) do not always understand this – a person drawing does not care if the lifeguard is certified or if the life-ring was manufactured to industry standards – unless they survive and are injured by the incompetence in the process – then they care.
The Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams in an incorporated tax-exempt nonprofit, that is affiliated or partnered with government, universities, and bodies worldwide. Our leadership holds professional certifications in cybersecurity and cybercrime, as well as victims’ assistance. SCARS identifies its leadership and their actual experience in the subject matter.
Not one of these so-called anti-scam group pretenders (that is not a SCARS member) does or has any of the requisite experience that would be needed.
Victims Ask “Why Are We Not All On The Same Side?”
THE ANSWER IS ACTUALLY NO – WE ARE NOT – AT LEAST NOT ALWAYS
In an emergency, anyone can provide care, and in fact, is required to help at some level. If you have a heart attack you would want someone to perform CPR – hopefully, they also have been trained, but enough people have seen it on TV that they could probably help some. Yes, they may cause more harm, but any help is such a situation is better than nothing. Sometimes that is true, sometimes not. For example, you could not want someone on the street to take out a knife and perform open-heart surgery (unless they were a surgeon). But once the ambulance arrives and you are taken to the hospital you would demand absolute professional care.
Scam Victims Almost Never Ever Consider This
There is nothing wrong with helping to educate scam victims, as long as it is competent information and real support.
News articles, for example, can be very helpful in providing awareness. However, a mistake that so many groups make is that they do not know what they do not know, and as such either cross the ethical lines or continue to spread urban legends and fake news. Most of these groups are made up of either victims or true fakes. Some do have a sincere desire to help, some it is all about their anger or self-aggrandizement.
Unfortunately, online crime or scam victims especially (as a group) rarely consider the competency or even the integrity of the anti-scam groups they frequent and support. This lack of discrimination on their part makes it much harder to help them, it is also a prime reason why only about 30% of scam victims achieve recovery. With more than 50% of scam victims “warehoused” in fake, amateur, or pretender (or in some cases fraudulent) anti-scam groups they are denying themselves their own path to recovery.
Volunteer vs. Professional
We strongly believe in the role of volunteers in Victims’ Assistance and have no desire to see that disappear.
For victims of crime, both professional and volunteers victims advocates play important roles. They help affirm victims’ rights and to provide information and services to victims of crime. Our own victims’ assistance activities are hugely supported by our corps of volunteers.
Organized locally and globally, the starting point is a victim advocate in the jurisdiction of the crime. However, there still needs to be achievable, maintainable, and enforceable standards for both professionals and volunteers.
Seeking Like-Minded Professionals
Our organization is proud to represent nearly one million scam victims directly or through our Member Groups. Collectively we reach a million victims a month on the web and social media, yet the challenges and the haters and trolls remain as we expand the boundaries of professionalism in the space. The defamation campaigns by amateur and quack groups that see professionalism as a threat continue month after month and year after year. As more of the public become a victim of scams and react by believing that they are qualified themselves to save everyone, more of these groups are formed. Of course, we see similar quacks in law, medicine, and conspiracy theories of all kinds – advocates of professional standards are their enemy and must, therefore, be in league with the scammers, evil overlord, or extra-terrestrials (pick on) in their minds.
The Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams has been successful in spite of the amateurs and fakes 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, OVA, and NCVC standards and guidelines, as well as undergoing professional) training programs (such as that provided by our partnership with the United States Department of Homeland Security – particularly for Vicarious Trauma training for the continuation of effective support for victims.)
With an estimated 25 million romance scam victims alone worldwide, and over 5 million in the United States, the time has come for more than fakes, amateurs, and quack anti-scam groups – 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, and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Europe. For the last year, we have been working in China for the development of such a model in concert with the government of China. 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.
In short, we are not amateurs.
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 with 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 (contact@AgainstScams.org).
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 level.
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.