STAY SAFE AND VIGILANT! SCAMMERS LOVE TO USE COVID-19 AS PART OF THEIR SCAM STORY!
STAY SAFE AND VIGILANT! SCAMMERS LOVE TO USE COVID-19 AS PART OF THEIR SCAM STORY!
AARS is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Your support and contributions will enable us to help continue bringing education and awareness on the subject of online romance scams and advocating for victims justice.
All donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. AARS's tax identification number is 85-0518427
Advocating Against Romance Scammers (AARS) was created to help bring awareness and convey how online romance scams have impacted the world today. AARS dedicates its time and attention to those wanting to learn about the cyber-crime and assist in directing scammed survivors and identity theft victims toward appropriate resources for justice and healing. It's crucial that everyone online is aware of how scammers proceed and just as important for our lawmakers to understand.
Would you please help us with our continued work on global awareness and educating legislative influences?
Advocating Against Romance Scammers Inc., is a nonprofit organization created to help bring awareness and convey the way online romance scams have impacted our world today.
You can start by signing the petition for increased platform responsibility.
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On 12/2/2021 at 1:00 pm PST, AARS had a virtual meeting with Senator Marsha Blackburns, National Security Advisor, and Policy Advisor on the topic of romance scams. We were able to share the number of victims from Tennessee and the monies that left their state. The staff also shared with us how Senator Blackburn had recently been a victim of identity theft by erroneous use of her photos. The scammers used pictures of the Senator and her family as well. The office agrees that laws need to change, and we were thankful for us sharing our work and story with them. The Advisors also confirmed that they are talking to another Senator's office regarding new policies.
We also mentioned our relationship with Rep. Kinzinger's office and the two bills he has presented to the appropriate committees on behalf of cyber safety: H.R. 4654 and H.R.4653. They were aware.
As for follow-ups, we extended our assistance concerning research, stories, anything that can help spread awareness on romance scams. We also mentioned our partnership with Alliance to Counter Crimes Online (ACCO) and how we work as a team to provide awareness and education on platform safety from all areas of different cybercrimes.
Overall the meeting was well received and promising for future movement on new bills or amendments that benefit cyber safety! It's good to hear and know the lawmakers are listening!
Thank you to Senator Blackburn's staff for their time and understanding with this matter!
AARS would like to welcome our newest board member Julie Golub. Julie comes to us with an exceptional background with the focus in "bank regulation with emphasis on compliance management related to retail banking, both in consumer and Anti-Money Laundering laws." Julie will hold the Secretarial position for AARS. Having extensive knowledgeable of financial crimes that plague our platforms, Julie will be a significant addition to AARS's team of experts.
Jan Hart, who previously covered the spot of Secretary for AARS, resigned her position on October 1, 2021. She was an asset to AARS from its beginning. Jan voluntarily dedicated a year to AARS and we are so grateful for her hard work, time and energy. She will be missed.
Community Bystandards of Facebook and YouTube
By Kathy Waters and Bryan Denny, Co-founders of Advocating Against Romance Scammers
Imagine breaking up with someone every day, sometimes more than once, for years. Imagine being months into a committed relationship with a wonderful partner only to discover the whole thing was fake. As cofounders of Advocating Against Romance Scams (AARS) we have heard thousands of stories like these, stories of the devastation wrought by romance scammers from the multiple types of victims they entrap: those whose identities are stolen to build fake profiles, those whose hearts are broken to steal their money, and those who are turned into money mules once their bank accounts have been wrung dry. These scams are psychologically and financially ruinous and they are happening every day, with the full complicity of Facebook and other social media and dating platforms.
According to the 2020 Internet Crimes Complain Center Internet Crime Report, romance scams cost Americans more than $600 million last year, having quadrupled since 2019. Put another way, they are the #2 most lucrative ploy for scammers (business scams being #1). That should make stopping them #1 priority for both tech platforms and law enforcement. But because of Section 230 of the Communications Act, tech platforms have no liability to police user-generated content, and law enforcement has little recourse since scammers are often based outside the U.S. Most tech platforms have explicit policies that require them to remove any account that has stolen another person’s identity, or engaging in scams, but few platforms enforce these policies well.
Our most recent research project, Community Substandards: Capturing the Empty Promises of Big Tech's Safety Against Online Romance Scams set out to test how effectively social media platforms are enforcing their own policies. After creating a fake profile, we uncovered and reported twenty-four groups on Facebook that were openly trading tips on how to romance scam and launder money, as well as where to buy fake profiles and scripts to lure victims in violation of Facebook’s community standards. We reported twelve videos to YouTube violating their policies by offering ‘How To’ guides to romance scamming. We reported active profiles demonstrably built from the stolen identities and photos of four of our members on Facebook. Collectively these men have seen their information used in more than 12,000 fake profiles netting more than $4 million for scammers. Two of the men’s profiles have been verified authentic by Facebook itself, so any others should automatically be considered fake.
The results were shocking: a month later, all the Facebook groups were still functioning, and even growing— one of them adding an astounding 50,000 more members. All the YouTube videos were still up and had increased in subscriber counts and views. Even more distressingly, Facebook determined that none of the fake profiles we reported broke their community standards, leaving them active to scam new victims. 0% of accounts that were demonstrably in violation of Facebook and YouTube’s own policies and the law were removed or disabled. Facebook’s one suggestion: that we block the offending accounts if we didn’t want to see them.
That appears indicative of big tech’s faulty approach towards this problem: ignore it and perhaps it will go away. But as the mushrooming sum of money scammed from Americans through online romance scams proves, ignoring this problem has caused the problem to grow exponentially. So why would Facebook and YouTube allow this to happen? Perhaps the recent revelations by the recent Facebook whistleblower that there were internal concerns about the contraction of their userbase and content generation offer a clue. As active users of multiple profiles and frequent participants in groups and chats, romance scammers are an antidote to both of these issues. Indeed, driven by the imperative to conceal their identity and play many different roles, criminal users appear more likely to boost Facebook’s user metrics than legitimate users.
Facebook offers scammers unbelievable opportunities on a silver platter: free office space (the platform), free raw materials, easy access to a global client base, and the ability to market and promote their work at no cost—and with no risk. However, if Facebook enforced its own standards, none of the accounts we found would be allowed to exist--even our research would have been impossible. And tech firms were regulated the same way as brick-and-mortar companies, rather than shielded by Section 230, the evidence AARS documented in this report would make Facebook and YouTube liable for facilitating and profiting off criminal activity. Instead, no one is held responsible.
Facebook and scammers get rich. Ordinary Americans pay, with their life savings, their hearts, and their hope. The chief of financial fraud for the FBI estimates only 1/3 of victims report romance scams because the fraud leaves people so ashamed and decimated. The only thing worse than the false affections of the scammers is the cruelly complicit inaction of the tech companies. They share the scammers guilt, responsibility, and profits.
It should not be those who are robbed that feel ashamed, it should be Facebook and YouTube and their boards and investors. We should not be alone calling for their accountability, we should be joined by Facebook’s advertisers, their users, and our legislators. Representative Adam Kinzinger has been a strong ally. We invite other members of congress to join him, and us in calling for real enforcement. It’s time to match their 0% compliance with 0% tolerance for their bad behavior.
See AAR'S Report Below in its Entirety.
A great little corner for all to read! Short informational safety tips/hints and guides to help you understand the subject of romance scams...with a sprinkle of humor! The subject is serious, but we will educate you to see what a joke these scammers are! LET'S DO THIS!
Make the Internet a Safer Place for All.
Advocating Against Romance Scammers provides community outreach through education and awareness, across the community of internet users, on the global problem that is romance driven scams, in order to help curtail the number of victims, influence change among those that maintain social media platforms, and hold those accountable through changes in legislation and pursuit through the judiciary process.
Take a moment to meet AARS's founding board members. Each member comes with an impeccable background that will make this organization as successful as dreamed. All five members come with a hope for justice, a desire for safer platforms and a passion to educate and bring awareness to the subject of online romance scams.
The Identity Theft Story of Anthony Dohrmann.
The Facts and Need For Action Against Romance Scams