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Real Cases Internet Swindlers Database Legislation  File a Police Fraud Report Other Links 
That Help
  
  
MSNBC News Story Warns of the Horrors of Internet Sweetheart Scams - 7/28/2005
  Romance Scam.com - Publishes Phony Photos Being Used by Internet Sweetheart Scammers
  If you are victim of the growing epidemic of Nigerian Romance Fraud, go to CUFF's Nigerian Scam Page.
  Yahoo Message Board "Romance Scams"  - Nigerian Romance Scam Support Group & Forum
 
Love Fraud Blog - Forum for Women Who Have Been in Destructive Relationships

              D o you believe that someone has used your love and trust in order to steal your money?  Did they claim they loved you, would marry you, take care of you, start a business with you - and all you had to do was provide the financing for everything?  Did they disappear overnight or just walk out on you after you ran out of money?  Did they refuse to pay back any of the money they received, claiming that you gave it to them willingly as a gift?  Did you learn after they left that they were involved with another person at the same time they were promising you the world and taking your money?  Then you are the victim of a sweetheart scam - a growing epidemic of fraud that is fueled by the anonymity of the Internet and the laxity of law enforcement to prosecute when a "friend" steals from a friend.  This fraud even has official names - affinity fraud and friendly fraud.

      CUFF helps victims of sweetheart scams obtain justice by providing information that can be used to prosecute or sue the thief.  We have worked with thousands of victims, some of whom have successfully convinced the police to issue criminal charges against the person who stole from them. 

      Some of the victims we have worked with have learned how to sue the thief pro se (representing themselves in court), have obtained civil judgments and have collected their money by levying the thief's bank account, garnisheeing paychecks or having the sheriff seize personal property.  Some of the victims have been able to gain the emotional strength to fight back through e-mail and phone support from CUFF victims who have volunteered to share their experiences and time with other victims.

     Your journey to justice may be rocky and at times very discouraging, but there is justice if you persevere.  Review the links and information below and if you feel you still need additional help or have questions, contact CUFF in the Contact form.  

     If you need assistance with a specific case, complete a
File a Fraud Report.

 WHAT CUFF CAN DO TO HELP YOU


 
*1 First, we will run a background check on the person in order to determine whether or not there are outstanding warrants, civil judgments, bankruptcies, aliases, multiple social security numbers, real property owned, etc.  This is essential when beginning an investigation because you obviously do not know the person well or certainly not as well as you thought you did...and you must learn who they are and what they have done in the past in order to know what to do about the fraud.  You may be shocked to learn that the person has an outstanding felony warrant or multiple civil judgments for fraud.  This information would benefit your case if you attempt to file criminal charges with the police.  If you sue, it will help you determine what assets they may have.

The fee to run the background check is $59.00 which is used to fund CUFF's work with victims and law enforcement.  Order a Background Search to begin the research process..  


*2 Once we complete the background check, we will e-mail the results to you within three days.  If it is apparent that the person is using multiple identities or has questionable gaps in their address history, we will recommend what should be done to expand the investigation.  If, however, it is clear to us that you are dealing with a con artist who is on the run, we will take your case for free and begin the process of hunting down the person and working with law enforcement.

*3  If any kind of warrant has been issued for your con artist, including non-extraditable warrants, and/or if you have obtained a civil judgment against the con artist, we will enter the person in the CUFF Fugitive Database at no charge so others can help you find him.  Fugitives in the CUFF database can be searched with over 45 characteristics, which makes it virtually impossible for a fugitive to hide behind an alias or a mustache.  If you have a photo, we'll include it.  Thanks to law enforcement, victims and concerned citizens, the fugitive database currently contains over 900 fugitives and is growing daily. 

CUFF has successfully located EVERY fugitive we have actively tracked, and we have put many of them in jail.  We have helped victims learn the true identity of the con artists who stole from them and most of them turned out to be fugitives with warrants for fraud. View our Success Stories
to see some of our successful efforts.   

If you already know the person has an outstanding warrant or criminal history, you can
Submit the Person to the CUFF Fugitive Database for free.  Let others help you find the person and help forewarn other victims by taking the few minutes required to enter the person in the database.  When you enter the information, it is not searchable on the Internet until CUFF verifies it in court documents or with law enforcement and your personal data is never available to anyone unless you authorize it.

*4 If you want to sue the person civilly, go to our Get Even Legally page to see an overview of the options available to you.  You can sue in small claims court without an attorney even if it is far less than the money owed.  If the thief does not have assets and therefore going for the full amount lost is financially impractical, it may still be worth it to sue in small claims court in order to obtain a judgment that will give you the power of subpoena.  If there are warrants for the person, these subpoenas can be used to find the person and then turn them into the police.  Once you obtain a judgment, Submit the Judgment to the CUFF DatabaseWinning a judgment will also give you the power of subpoena to obtain the defendant's cell phone bills, utility bills, bank account records, credit report, etc.  This information can help you find the defendant and determine what assets are available to seize.

*5 You should also enter your civil judgment in the Internet Civil Judgment RegistryThe ICJR will send the defendant a letter advising that the judgment  against them will be entered in the Internet Registry if payment is not made within 30 days.  The Registry database can be searched by anyone for free. You can include your contact information with the judgment so that a searcher can inform you of the whereabouts of the defendant or you can use the Registry's contact information and they will contact you with any tips. 

*6 You can also enter the person who defrauded you in the Internet Swindlers Database, a proprietary database that is not searchable on the Internet and your personal information is not available to anyone.  This database is for con artists who do not have a criminal record, outstanding warrants or civil judgments and therefore cannot be entered into the CUFF Fugitive Database.  If you believe the person who defrauded you really is a con artist who will continue to swindle others, enter the information about the person in the Swindlers Database so that it can be matched against con artists already in the database and those entered subsequent to your entry.  CUFF will contact you via e-mail if we make a match so that further action may be taken.  At that point you may wish to contact the other victim(s) to see if collectively you can convince law enforcement to charge the person.  If evidence is clear that this person is a con artist, CUFF will work for free with you to obtain justice.

 * 7 If you don't believe the criminal justice system is equipped to handle the growing epidemic of fraud, Join CUFF, America's fastest growing grassroots anti-fraud movement that is working to change the laws and social attitude which have contributed to the laxity in prosecution.  

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  WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF AND OTHERS


FILE A FRAUD REPORT WITH THE POLICE

*1 Complete the CUFF Fraud Form, print it and and take it in person to the police. Police Fraud Report Form   But before you spend time and energy going to the police, make sure that the fraud you have suffered fits the legal definition of fraud.  Otherwise, no matter how certain you are that you have been conned, neither the police nor the prosecutor will be able to help you.  A crime must have been committed based on the current laws. (If you agree with CUFF that these laws are not strong enough or clear enough, let your legislator know how you feel.)  Here is the Current Legal Definition of Fraud.

*2 Here are some of the laws already on the books that may apply to your fraud.  If the police don't want to investigate, referring to these laws may help:

       Theft by Deception
       Theft by Conversion
       Larceny by Conversion
       Fraud Schemes
       Larceny by False Promise
       Theft of Services (This is a good law for landlords who were scammed out of rent by a con artist)
       Fraudulent Business Practices
       Uttering Forgery (Using documents known to be forged or invalid)
       Financial Elder Abuse

Check the criminal code or statutes in your state to see what similar laws are available to charge the person with fraud.  You can find these codes on the Internet by searching in a search engine for "Nevada State Statutes," "Minnesota State Statutes," etc.  If you cannot find them, search for the governor's office for your state, then look for a link to the statutes there.  If you cannot find your statutes, 
Contact Us
us and we will find them for you and forward the link to your e-mail.

*3 Below are are some tips that can help victims in civil and criminal cases.  All of these have been used successfully by victims:

 
(a) Civil Judgment Based on Fraud: File a civil judgment based on fraud, not just based on an unpaid loan or money taken.  Judgments based on fraud cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy.  Remember that even if you are able to convince the police to charge the person with a crime, it is unlikely that you will ever get your money back unless you obtain a judgment.  If the case is so blatant that the money stolen is judged to be "ill-gotten gains," it is possible that the prosecutor will request that all the defendant's assets be frozen.  You should request this regardless of how bad the fraud is.  Just don't get your hopes up.  

 
(b) Annulment Based on Fraud: If you married a con artist, file for an annulment based on fraud, not for a divorce.  This will eliminate the property settlement issue as the person will not receive any of the community property.  It is also possible to obtain a judgment for all money he took fraudulently from you as part of the annulment decree.  This process will have eliminated the need to file a civil judgment against him as your annulment can be recorded as a judgment.

 
(c)
Criminal Restitution: If you are able to charge the person criminally, request restitution as part of the sentence.  This restitution will become a legal judgment that will appear in court documents.  Each state and county has specific procedures for collecting this restitution.  If restitution is granted, the defendant is often put on probation until it is paid.  Most require the defendant to pay the money to a financial department within the district attorney's office.  If the money is not paid, this office will advise the defendant's probation officer that the defendant is not complying with the conditions of probation.  The consequences for this vary, depending on the state and county.  The probation officer usually has the option of requiring the defendant to agree to a payroll garnishment.  If restitution payments are habitually late or ignored, this option can be requested by the victim through the financial department.

 
(d) Defendant's Credit Report: You can make an effort to put the recorded judgment on the defendant's credit report.  Sometimes credit agencies will take this information and sometimes they won't.  They will record it if a judgment recovery agent who belongs to the credit bureau enters it.  Often times the credit bureaus will tell the plaintiff that the judgment will eventually be picked up when the bureau researches the county where the judgment is recorded.  This is risky. We know of victims who have judgments recorded four years ago that are still not appearing on the defendant's credit report.  It is crucial that your judgment be on the defendant's credit report because this may prevent the person from getting a job, buying a car and certainly buying real property.  This major inconvenience may be the only thing that forces the defendant to finally pay you.

(e)  Inexpensive Legal Counsel: Some victims have had some success in obtaining legal advice at a reduced cost by subscribing to a monthly legal service.  For less than $40.00 a month, you will have access to an attorney you can call to ask questions about your case.  The attorney of course hopes you will hire him to represent you in court, but that is not a requirement for you to use the service.  We have heard good and bad about some of these services, so we cannot recommend any one in particular. 

(f)  Credit Counseling: If you have been financially devastated by a con artist and are desperate enough to file bankruptcy, it would be good idea to talk to a credit counseling company first.  You may be able to reduce your monthly payments on your debt to a comfortable level and also save your credit.  If you lose your credit because of a bankruptcy, you will have compounded the damage done to you by the con artist.  It is worth the effort to see if credit counseling can help you.  We cannot recommend any companies but an Internet search will produce dozens of these companies located throughout the U.S.  Call them and talk to a counselor, then select one that you are comfortable with.  Do a due diligence on the company first by checking with the Better Business Bureau and the state's Secretary of State if the company is incorporated.

 (g) VINE - Victim Information and Notification Everyday: If you are the victim of a criminal who is now in prison, register your name and contact information with VINE and you will be contacted before the inmate is released.


 
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  LEGISLATION

     If you are unable to convince the police and prosecutor that you have been scammed even though you have the evidence to support a fraud, then you have reached the dead-end that all too many CUFF fraud victims finally reach and it is time to contact your state legislators.  The more fraud victims who contact their state senator and representative, the quicker state laws will be implemented to change the outdated concept that fraud is not always a crime if you knew the person who stole from you.  

     Official surveys of congress have concluded that it takes only 5 e-mails from constituents to convince a legislator to investigate an issue. Because fraud is the fastest growing crime in America today, primarily due to the Internet, it is crucial that steps be taken quickly to curb the epidemic.  Your voice is necessary to convince legislators that action must be taken which will require the police to fully investigate charges of fraud when they are filed by a victim - regardless of whether or not the victim was a close associate of the accused.  Be sure to emphasize that not only do laws need to be addressed but the mind-set that currently regards a victim as part of the problem must be changed.  Laws pertaining to fraud by a "friend" must be addressed just as drunk driving laws, anti-smoking laws and stalking laws were.  The police must have clear-cut guidelines for investigating and enforcement of fraud laws already on the books must be required.

     In your letter, outline briefly the evidence you have to prove fraud and ask your elected officials why the police and/or prosecutor are telling you that it is not fraud when someone lies to you in order to steal your money.  Ask your legislator why the laws below that are already on the books aren't being enforced by law enforcement in your jurisdiction.

     Theft by Deception
     Theft by Conversion
     Larceny by Conversion
     Fraud Schemes
     Larceny by False Promise
     Theft of Services (This is a good law for landlords who were scammed out of rent by a con artist)
     Fraudulent Business Practices
     Uttering Forgery (Using documents known to be forged or invalid)
     Financial Elder Abuse

     Fraud is a community-based crime.  It affects everyone in the community because the money stolen will not be spent on taxes to support the community or on consumer goods to support the business sector.  The money stolen will not be invested by the con artist to make a business grow and pay employees' salaries.  It will not be spent by the con artist to pay taxes.  It will be squandered on gambling, drugs and high living until it runs out.  Then the con artist will move on to the next victim to begin the cycle all over again. 

    
In 2003 consumers reported losses from fraud totaling more than $437 million.  Internet fraud accounted for 55% of all fraud reports, compared to 45% in 2002 and totaling about $200 million. In 2003, the FTC reported more than 214.9 million cases of identity theft, a 150% increase in just two years. This is money could be put back into education, health care and law enforcement.  

 
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              REAL CASES THAT HURT REAL PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU 


  *1 Do any of these cases resemble your fraud?  These are real con artists who stole tens of thousands of dollars from real people who trusted them.  After taking all the money they knew they could without raising suspicion, these con artists fled.  Some of them CUFF helped identify and/or capture.  Some of them are still at large and urgently need to be apprehended before more victims are financially devastated.  ID No. 849 ID No. 881; ID No 1090ID No. 267ID No. 359 ID No. 1304.
 
 
*2 Do you recognize these wolves in sheep's clothing: Beware of the Con Artist?  The steal from you by sneaking in through your emotions instead of your window.  By the time you see them for what they really are, you are financially broke, emotionally broken-hearted and most likely unable to convince the police and prosecutors that a crime has been committed.

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.          ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND HELP


  Victim Notification of Offender Release - Victims can register their names for notification of offender's release.
 
Con Artists - Would you spot a wolf in sheep's clothing?  How con artists set up a victim and why they are so successful
 
How to Detect the Lies and Get Out Before It's Too Late
 
Why Do Con Artists Scam?
  The Fraud Victim's Manual - How to write a fraud report for investment fraud that convinces the police to file charges against a con artist
 
How to Spot a Con Artist  - Connecticut Department of Banking
  Professionals Against Confidence Crime
  Spotting a Sweetheart Scamrt
  Fraud Tech's World of Cons, Frauds and Other Lies
 
Beware of Banking Check Fraud -  Con artists know the laws - You better know them, too.  
 
Scam Report Sites 

  Con Artists - How they Prey on Singles

 
Sweetheart Swindles ARE Real Crimes
  Watch Out for the Con Man
  The Elderly Are the No. 1Target of Swindlers
  Even Sensible People Fall Prey to the Lure of a Con
  Why Con Artists Love Us
  How to Spot an Investment Con Artist - Advice from the North American Securities Administrators Association
  Beating the Con Artist at His Own Game - Advice from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

  National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
  Snopes.Com - Urban Legends Reference, Message Board, Scam Reports
 
Advice from PayPal: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraudulent E-Mails
  Fraudwatchernetwork.com
  National Crime Victim Bar Association - Helping Crime Victims Pursue Justice through the Legal System
  Women's Law.org
  Help for ID Theft Victims - Consumer Victim Advocates, Inc.
 
Lovefraud.com - Blog for Women Who Have Been In Destructive Relationships
 
Fight Bigamy - Web Site of the Wife of a Bigamist Whose Fight for Justice Helped Put Him In Jail
 
 www.cameronhchambers.com - Author of  "Confessions of an Internet Don Juan"


  TRUE FRAUD STORIES

  Volusia County, FL Man Arrested for Stealing $900,000 from Employer
 
A Sweetheart Scam That Even the Prosecutor Couldn't Ignore
  Woman Who Claimed to Be Heiress Convicted of Bilking Real Estate Developer
  "Serial Sweetheart Swindler" Arrested
  Master Con Artist Says It's Not His Fault That His Gullible Victims Believed Him 
 
Married Woman Arrested for Stealing $300,000 from Elderly Man in Sweetheart Scam
  Swindle Case Used as Teaching Tool at Senior Summit
 
Man Charged with Fraud after Tricking his Girlfriend into Believing He Had Cancer
  Meth addicts pay for drugs with stolen identity information
 
Combating Romance Fraud - Advice from a Victim Who Out-conned Her Con Artist 
 
One Couple's Nightmare: They Feel Let Down by System After ID Theft, Harassment Case
  Woman Accused of Faking Cancer
 
MSNBC News Story Warns of the Horrors of Internet Sweetheart Scams - 7/28/2005
 
Job Seeker Using Online Employment Site Says She Faces Jail Time Because She Was Duped Into Postal Forwarding Scam 
  Good Samaritan Loses $18,000 in Nigerian Scam
  Bogus Princess Pleads Guilty to Fraud
 
When Your Husband Is a Con Man
 
Bigamist Arrested After Two of His Wives Appear on Dr. Phil's Show
 
Man Looking for Love on the Internet Found Nigerian Con Artist Instead
  Disbarred Atlanta, GA Attorney Defrauds 10 Dating Site Sweethearts Out of Over One Million Dollars
  ABC Expose on Nigerian Scammer Doesn't Stop Him from Trying Again - 12/2006
 
Love Suckers (Elderly Victims Lose More than Money to Sweetheart Scammers) - Read Story in The Scottsdale Times - 4/01/07
  Australian Con Artist Who Defrauded Elderly Man Out of His Life Savings Emotionally Devastates His Family - 5/13/07
 
Dark Side of Internet Dating - 11/07
  Gypsy Sweetheart Scammer Takes the Money and Runs But Florida Victims Too Embarrassed to Talk - 2/07
  The Black Widow - Dateline - 8/07- Com Artist Whose Friends & Spouses Kept Dying

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