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Lost $10K to scammers. I’ve been able to locate them. I know their home phone, their bank details, who they are renting from, their street address. I want to go there and take action.

Does this information help me in any way? Can I use this information in any way to get my money back? Any ideas?

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  • 90
    Did you notify the police?
    – Hart CO
    Oct 5 '20 at 22:22
  • 46
    If you live to tell, let us know how it went. Oct 6 '20 at 8:08
  • 19
    For people commenting, do bear in mind locale is not specified. Not everyone has the luxury to live in a country where it's as simple as "turn data to police". Where I live, even if he had a video confession of the scammer and him detailing how why and who he's gonna scam, you would probably at best get a notice from police after a month that they couldn't find the perp, so case closed. Unless you're wealthy or a politician of course.
    – Yuropoor
    Oct 6 '20 at 10:46
  • 29
    Respectfully, how is this on-topic? A question about a financial scam is one thing, but this is after the fact and is more on-topic for Interpersonal Skills or Law
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 6 '20 at 12:40
  • 46
    This really needs to come off the HNQ
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 6 '20 at 17:25
275

There is a real chance that you haven't found the scammer. You may have just found another victim. The risk to you is that you decide to try and scam the scammer, or you try to physically strike the scammer, and then you find out you were wrong. The police will then become very interested in you.

If you haven't contacted the police and/or your bank do so now. They are the only ones who can do something about this.

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    This answer is the only reason I'm not voting to close the question. I think it's important that anyone else who thinks they've outsmarted the scammers take a strong look at the idea that they probably haven't.
    – BobbyScon
    Oct 6 '20 at 0:11
  • 95
    Even if OP has actually found the scammer, taking matters into their own hands would still carry the risk of arrest, prosecution, and conviction.
    – jcm
    Oct 6 '20 at 3:04
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    The question should be closed/rewritten due to lack of precision, no proof, is it a decoy, no location, no scam details, sounds like someone's watched too many movies. Oct 6 '20 at 11:40
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    I mean, the police will become very interested in a physical assault whether or not the person being attacked is a scammer. Inadvisable either way. Oct 6 '20 at 12:37
  • 3
    The scene in "The Big Lebowski" where Walter smashes up a new Corvette with a tire iron only to find out it's not owned by the target of his rage comes to mind.
    – JimmyJames
    Oct 7 '20 at 14:14
43

As others have mentioned:

  1. You could attack an innocent person.
  2. You will face legal ramifications if you do attack whoever it might be — their wrongdoing doesn't exempt you from facing consequences.
  3. Let the criminal justice system deal with the scammers.

AND equally as important: you yourself might come to bodily harm — if they are scammers I'm sure they are prepared to defend themselves, they might have a gun/baseball bat and you might end up dead or disabled.

Go to the police, it is the only reasonable and safe action you can take here that will not result in further harm to you and your family.

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    Consider that a nasty scammer might have friends that are even nastier. Beating someone up, even if it is the scammer, might have bad consequences for you personally.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 6 '20 at 13:39
  • 1
    This answer really doesn't add anything, as well as these answers kind of only empower scammers. Oct 7 '20 at 0:30
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    The last thing you want is to find out the hard way that these scammers are connected to some sort of organized crime outfit (mafia, gang, cartel, etc). An organization like that would have no problem tracking you down and it would not be pretty. Better to leave this one to the professionals.
    – bta
    Oct 7 '20 at 1:12
  • @bta There is no locale added, but the professionals aren't necessarily any better at it.
    – Mast
    Oct 7 '20 at 17:25
  • 2
    @marshalcraft Attacking the scammer will, at best, get you into more trouble and at worst, get you killed. Nobody is trying to empower the scammers; they're trying to keep OP from getting into more trouble.
    – Nelson
    Oct 8 '20 at 8:49
19

Yeah, you do have a self-help option...

SUE THEM! It elegantly solves all the problems

Because of the fraud, they're into you for at least triple damages, and possibly a lot more if their behavior would enrage a jury.

Suing someone is a "self-help" legal solution that allows you to forbid, compel, or take money damages. You can't send them to jail, but if their conduct is illegal and disturbing, the judge can refer the case to the District Attorney's office for criminal prosecution.

In this case you engage an attorney.

  • This can be out-of-pocket in which case you pay the lawyer regardless, but keep all money collected.
  • Or it can be on contingency, which costs you nothing out of pocket and you get 2/3 - (the lawyer collects 1/3 for services rendered) -- but a lawyer will only agree to that if a) your case is winnable and b) the defendant is collectible.
  • Lastly, you can self-represent if you really, really want to... but unless you're careful, detail-oriented and willing to do a lot of research, you'll probably find yourself swamped with technicalities.

Now, what about those downsides?

"They are criminals and they beat you up or murder you":

They won't get to meet you. Their first encounter will be with your lawyer's process server throwing a piece of paper at them. If they threaten or intimidate the process server, those will a) be completely new crimes, which the process server (as an independent third party) will gleefully report; and b) this will wildly prejudice the lawsuit in your favor.

Other than that, they interact with your lawyer and the court.

If they're an organized crime ring, they'll have their own lawyers, who will use the legal system to resist you. Not their first rodeo; they know better than to physically threaten lawyers, process servers, or litigants.

"They are innocent victims, tricked by the real scammer to be a money mule":

They'll have every opportunity to raise that objection and explain their side of the story. They don't even need to hire a lawyer; they can either write it in a proper Answer, or they can explain in interrogatories (written Q&A you send them), or they can tell you the story in front of a camera when you take their deposition.

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    Suing solves the problems if you win. California Business Journal suggest a simple lawsuit may cost around $10,000. So OP may need to have that additional amount of money they can afford to lose in their attempt to recover the lost $10,000. They should get costs back if they win. If they don't win, I imagine they could easily be $20K down instead of $10k down. Oct 7 '20 at 15:17
  • 1
    @RedGrittyBrick I discuss 3 funding methods (edited for clarity) and your concern only applies to one of them; what you're missing is quite early, you discover if you a) have a winnable case and b) have a collectible client. If both of those are not true, you drop the case with little money spent. If both are true, you're likely to get an early and profitable settlement - the scammer will want to do anything to avoid getting in front of a judge. $10k only applies if you have to drag them to verdict. Oct 7 '20 at 16:54
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica I don’t know what “This” case you’re talking about. And small claims does not force anybody to self represent. Furthermore I have sued in New Jersey Superior Court, represented myself, there were no technicalities, and it wasn’t one iota harder than small claims, and I am no renaissance man. Oct 10 '20 at 10:45
17

Assuming that these guys are scammers, you have no idea how professional these people are. They could be part of a gang, they could be part of a mafia group, they could be terrorists, you don't know exactly who these scammers are. The best thing to do is to clear your head and tell the authorities what you have found.

In the first place, you should have actually contacted the authorities yourself, get a hold of your banks if you could, and see what you could have done there. While I don't know your current status and what you had to do to get to this point, I know that if you didn't do this as a last resort, then you should really reconsider your plan of action.

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    This. The scammers are, by definition, criminals, and one has no way of knowing whether or not they are the violent sort. Oct 6 '20 at 21:31
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Never, ever, take the law into your own hands: the state doesn't like competition, and assuming that you're a law-abiding citizen who hasn't obscured his identity you're an easy target.

As others have said, report it to the police... I assume your (or your daughter's) bank is already aware. If you don't get satisfaction that way, then use the services of whatever ombudsmen are appropriate to police regulation, or in extremis look for help from your local elected representative.

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