What Should You Do When You Get Scammed?

What to Do If I Got Scammed - Guide
Every dark cloud has a silver lining

As online scams become not only more widespread, but also more sophisticated, it appears to be rather easy to become a victim of one. But what should you do in such a case? Is it possible to get your money back? Let me show you every step you should do.

You Got Scammed – Where It All Ends?

Before explaining the steps you should take after being scammed, I’d like to specify the starting point. And obviously, this point coincides with the point where the exact scam ends. But what does it look like?

Vast majority of the scams have one thing in common – money loss. Either the scam site asks you to top up the account on the “novice crypto exchange”, or takes a pay for the goods ordered from “an ultimate shopping discounter”, it will always be your money that is missing. Depending on the type, there could be other things to worry about, but they are rather rare.

Scam store example
The example of a scam store. This one is a carbon copy of a dozen scams I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Personal data leak is the second most common occurrence, while not that obvious to victims. While creating an account on the scam site, or even filling up the delivery info, you share facts about yourself, this or another way. Email, phone number, nickname, (possibly) typical password and delivery address cost quite a penny on the black market. Some of the sophisticated scams may also ask you for ID or even SSN, and guess what? They will end up on the Darknet, too. Unfortunately, that’s not much you can do with that once it has happened.

With this figured out, let’s switch to the actual advice on what to do when you have become a victim of a scam.

Ive Been Scammed, What Should I Do?

Despite the issues being of a small number and straightforward, the list of actions you can – and should take to revert things is rather extensive. We begin with a thing that excites all victims the most – the way to return money.

There are three elements that determine the chances for success of the entire process. Those are your patience, speed of reaction and the used payment method. Let’s start from the latter:

Payment methods are important due to the fact that some of them do not support money returns at all. When paying with a card using a well-known payment system, you have much better chances of getting your money back. Same is true for payments via PayPal. In contrast to them, payment systems like Venmo, CashApp or Revolut do not support any returns, chargebacks and whatnots. Wire transfers, along with cryptocurrency payments, are out of the question, too – chances to get the money back are rather small.

Speed of reaction is important as even those payment methods that provide refunds may discard your request if it is too late. Sooner is always better, but it will be OK to request the money return within up to 1 week since you’ve paid.

Patience is king when all the requests are done and all that’s left is to wait. Money returns may take some time to finalize, so do not lose faith and kindly provide the bank representatives with all the necessary information.

1.Start With Complaint to the Store

Sure, when we are talking about online scams, complaints to the store are mostly snake oil. Nonetheless, to be clear from the procedure perspective, this step is essential, and will give you additional proof to request the money return. Usually, even scam sites have some kind of a complaint form or contacts to send messages to. It is usually unresponsive, but it will make you a good evidence for further complaints.

Meanwhile, start collecting all the info related to the unfortunate payment. Any messages from social media related to the scam, on-site chat box, email notifications, invoices – each piece of information is valuable. This correspondence will further be demanded by the bank or a payment system that managed the transaction.

When the scam site is already offline (which happens rather often), feel free to proceed with the next step. Though, you will still need the documentary evidence I’ve mentioned above.

Scam site is down
Banner on a scam site after its shutdown

2.File a Complaint to the Payment System

As I’ve said above, you should be pretty fast with sending the money return request to the payment system. Depending on the method, the authority you should file the complaint to is different.

For bank cards, the obvious place to call is the card issuer bank. Most commonly, they have a separate department that specializes in solving problems with various kinds of fraud. To prove the case, they may ask you to provide the details – all the info to collect in the previous stage.

PayPal stands out among payment systems, as it is one of a few ones that provide refund operations. By contacting the system’s support and describing the case, you will be able to get your money back. In some cases, additional info may be requested, too.

Bank transfer/wire transfer, together with cryptocurrency payments, are the worst-case scenarios when it comes to money return. In this case, aside from the bank or crypto exchange you were using for the payment, you should also contact the police. And the money return in this case will be possible only when law enforcement will detain the frauds and access their funds.

2.1 Avoid Any “Money Recovery Services”

This part of advice is not about money returns, but about avoiding getting into yet another scam. Yes, you read it correctly – most users or “companies” that offer their services in recovering money after scams are, in fact, similar frauds. The way their scam works is plain as day, but with a bit of social engineering, an unsuspecting victim of one scam may trust this one as well.

Note
Do not believe their tales about being representatives of a bank or a payment system: those institutions never provide their services away from their infrastructure, e.g. websites or branches.

Services that offer help with getting your money back after the scam may appear in social media, or even sometimes directly on your email. Strangers offer to recover all the money you’ve lost for a small reward (usually around 10-20% of the sum). However, shortly after taking your money, such “recovery experts” will stop answering, delete the conversation, or even ban you from texting them.

Though, not all of these scams are so blatant. In some cases, people who offer such services may really advise you on the steps on getting the money back. Thing is, anything they say or do effectively repeats the steps you can read above. Then the question arises – why would you pay someone for providing simple instructions that are available for free?

Contacting them is not only about financial risks: after gaining trust, they can ask you for sensitive details. It is rather easy to find a fraud that will gladly take your money, and then blackmail you with the info you’ve shared. And collecting sensitive info under such a legend is rather easy to automatize, meaning that frauds can gather massive amounts of personal information.

In rare cases, online scam masters may sell the database of scammed folks to such “money recovery experts”. You can predict what happens next: worried people will stick to the offer, and will most likely be ripped off once again.

2.2 Investigating Crypto Scams

As I’ve already mentioned, cryptocurrency transfers are among the hardest ones to revert. In fact, it is even recommended to contact separate authorities for that purpose. They specialize in investigating crypto fraud and tracing the lost money. There are both global and local investigators – I’ve gathered the ones to contact at the first place.

Authority Jurisdiction
Crystal Blockchain Global
CNC Intelligence USA
Crypto Helpline India
Cybertrace Australia
National Crime Agency UK

What Should You Do When You Get Scammed?

By Stephanie Adlam

I write about how to make your Internet browsing comfortable and safe. The modern digital world is worth being a part of, and I want to show you how to do it properly.

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