COMMENT:

With recent stats telling us that nearly half of all cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, I see a fraud educator has now come out and said it's time we stopped blaming the victims for these crimes.

Which is what they are, crimes. A scam is a fraud, so why do we call it a scam, does that term not minimise the seriousness of it?

The victims of these crimes often carry stigma and blame for this type of fraud and it's not fair.

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The other assumption made about victims of fraud is that they're vulnerable older people or people not smart enough to know better, but in actual fact, any one of us can be a target. Any one of us can be caught up in it unwittingly.

Many of these nasty scammers are actually internationally run businesses and cartels.
Some are donkey deep in organised crime: drugs, money laundering, illegal weapons trade, human trafficking.

So a Kiwi being targeted by one of these people is often up against a slick sophisticated international network.

More than 103 million spam emails are sent around the world every minute - and much of the time these are sent via machines not actual people. It's a fishing exercise.

And the stories we hear about this, from the victim's point of view, time and time again, is that they were too ashamed to tell anyone, embarrassed, or felt stupid to have been sucked in.

Some are even too afraid to tell family members.

But these criminal scammers target people from all walks of life and all ages, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Compounding the difficulty in trying to trace back money stolen, is the embarrassment of having to notify the bank, the police or friends and family. And according to one fraud education manager, that's just not fair.

She says the blame needs to be shifted back to the offenders. And that it should be called what it is - fraud.

It's a valid point and one I hope the powers that be who're currently looking into anti-money laundering and financial crime take on board.

Because until that happens, and until we remove some of the stigma around it, victims will continue to feel isolated.

We all benefit if people can talk more openly about these crimes, most crucially it may prevent others from becoming victims.