For many of us, if we’re the victim of a crime, our first instinct might be to call the police. After all, that’s what the police are supposed to do, right? Catch criminals, so that they can go before the courts and make restitution for their crimes. However, some crimes are harder to prosecute than others. What about online scams? Can the police help you get your funds back? Maybe not. Here’s why.
It’s All About Jurisdiction
If you watch a lot of crime shows, you’ve probably seen many scenes where the local cops clash with the feds over “jurisdiction.” Local police only have authority over crimes which happen in their jurisdiction. And while you live in that jurisdiction, chances are the criminal who scammed you does not.
The biggest challenge for both local police and “the feds” when it comes to dealing with scams is that most scammers are not only not local to their victims, they are often operating from another country entirely. Catching and prosecuting these scammers requires a concentrated international effort between many organizations. And in these cases, the biggest focus is on stopping scammers, rather than getting your funds back. You may someday receive restitution, but it will take time.
Resources Can Be Limited, Too
Whether or not your local police can help you get your funds back from an online scam depends a lot on their resources. If you live in a small town, your police force might not have a cyber crimes division. Or the department may be under-resourced, in order to focus on crimes that are seen as a higher priority, such as traffic enforcement and drugs.
How Can You Get Your Funds Back?
If you’ve been the victim of an online scam, you may need to take matters into your own hands and/or seek outside help. There are firms which specialize in getting money back from scammers, which can be very helpful as it is often a difficult and time-consuming process. Like many specialized tasks, you could try to do it yourself, but it’s probably easier to let the pros handle it.
Engaging a professional funds recovery firm gives you the best chance of getting your money back, as they know every avenue to pursue in the quest of making scammers pay. It also saves you from the stress of potentially continuing to interact with the people who took your money.
So Don’t Call the Cops?
Even if the police can’t get your funds back, it’s still a good idea to report the crime to both local and federal authorities. This allows the police and feds to track the instances of these crimes, which can be helpful both for building a case against the scam ring once they’re caught, and also for raising awareness within the community. The authorities may also be able to point you towards useful resources, such as information on how to protect yourself from identity theft, freeze your credit score, or otherwise take steps to mitigate any lingering damage from the scam beyond the loss of money.