In the flesh, Wayne May, (not his real name) is a likable gentleman in his late 40’s, softly spoken with a lilting Welsh accent.
When we meet him casually dressed in jeans and a Batman T-shirt. He works full-time as a caretaker.
In the network, is a tireless defender of the scam victims and intrepid scam baiter – a person who deliberately contacts the scammers, agrees with them and then publish as much information about them as possible, so as to warn others.
He regularly receives death threats, and his website, Scam Survivors, is the object of an attempt of DDoS attacks – in which a website is intentionally hit with a lot of web traffic to try to beat even in offline mode.
But Mr. May is determined to continue to help fraud victims in his spare time, and has a team of volunteers in the USA, Canada and Europe to do the same.
Scam Survivors is not an official platform in the UNITED kingdom, the victims are asked to contact Action Fraud, but the team has dealt with more than 20,000 cases in the last 12 years, ” he says.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 1.9 million reports of “cyber-related” fraud in the year ending March 2017 in England and Wales. But the report also says that many accidents are not reported to the police.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website says that almost AUS$13m (£8m; $10m) has been lost this year to romance fraud by only.
Scams may be an old trick, but it is still effective.
Mr. May, who does not charge but invite donations on its website, says his site is up to 10,000 hits a day, and in addition, the group receives up to two dozen messages a day from people who are victims of sextortion – when someone is blackmailed after being persuaded to perform a sexual act on a webcam, which is then recorded.
“A lot of people, when they come to us are already in a very deep way, that does not have a place to turn,” he says.
“You are not stupid, they are just unaware of the scam.”
“Is it not obvious [that it’s a scam] if you’ve never tried before.”
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Found out that it was “good enough” baiting romance scammers and find the relatives of the victims were approaching him to help their loved ones.
“I started to do more with the victims of the scams, rather than the scammers themselves, then, my priorities have changed from just having fun to actually help people.”
Many scams aren’t particularly sophisticated form of fraud.
“There are always new scams coming out, and we need to be aware of those,” says Mr. May.
“But a lot of scams are not high-tech, simply, to write messages to people and that’s it.
“You might think, ‘I’m not going to fall for this scam, but then you fall for another. The scammers find a chink in your armor.”
The first thing that Mr. May is to explain to those who contact you that Scam Survivors may not recover all the money that the victim has been convinced to hand.
In his experience, the average victim will end up around € 1,000 out of pocket, but some go much farther – a man who recently got in touch with the support group had given more than £ 500,000 to a male Russian scammer thought he was in a relationship with.
“We can say in advance, we are not able to get your money back. We are not able to offer emotional support. We are not psychiatrists. We are the only people who know how scams work and how to deal with them,” he says.
Counseling for victimsDrop all contact with the scammer. Do not try to track them down, remember that the scammer has your real details and possibly compromising information about you. It’s not worth the risk of continuing to talk about them, and especially not worth to deal with. If you have sent money, there is no realistic way to get it back – beware the “recovery scam” where the scammer says he is an agency able to get the money back, for a fee. Please contact the police.Share many details about the scam, as you can to warn others.