The recovery scam is a particularly malicious type of online scam commonly seen today. Recovery scams prey on individuals who have already been a victim of an online scam and attempt to further extort them for more money while posing as a company that recovers funds from scams. 

The scam goes something like this…

After losing money to an online scammer, you’re looking for ways to recoup your lost funds. Out of the blue, you receive an email, text, phone call, or social media direct message from a company that says they investigate online scams. They’ll say that their investigations lead to 100% or more of your funds refunded, but you’ll have to pay them upfront for their services. Once you pay them to investigate your case, they’ll either take the money and run, or they’ll pretend to investigate your case while asking for additional funds throughout the process. Now, you’re out of the original funds and your backup funds.

How to identify a recovery scam

Scammers are able to get away with recovery scams because they assume their victims won’t recognize them as the original scammer. The best way to avoid being the victim of a recovery scam is to know what to look for:

#1: How do they know you’ve been scammed?

This is the first question to ask. Have you talked about it on social media or anywhere else online? If not, how do they know you’ve been scammed? This should be an immediate red flag of a recovery scam. Even if you have mentioned it online, if they know specific details such as the amount or type of funds lost, this should still be an immediate red flag that this person has insider information that only you and the scammer would know. 

#2: They initiate the first contact.

How did they get your contact information and know you were scammed? How did they make first contact? Oftentimes these scammers will create fake social media accounts to contact you. If someone contacts you out of the blue stating they can help you recover funds from an online scam, it’s likely a recovery scam and the person who is reaching out is in fact the original scammer or scam company. 

#3: They claim 100%+ refund guaranteed.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to get every penny back from an online scam. Unfortunately, with the complexities of these cases and the digital nature, it can be very difficult to track down your stolen funds or even a portion of them. Even after finding the scammer and the funds, there are legal processes to take in order to rightfully seize these assets. If they were a legitimate investigative agency, they would know that 100% is not possible and that this claim is misleading.

#4: They won’t tell you their investigation methods.

If the recovery company can’t tell you how they’ll investigate your case, consider this to be a red flag. If they can’t tell you how they’re doing it, they probably aren’t doing it in the first place. Similarly, even if the company is licensed, always make sure they can explain their processes to ensure your case is investigated in accordance with all applicable laws. 

#5: They are not a licensed investigator and will not provide company information.

Anyone who is considered to be a private investigator must be licensed in their state or can be licensed in multiple states. If the company won’t reveal its licensing information or it won’t provide basic company information for you to research, this should be seen as a red flag of a recovery scam. A legitimately licensed investigator will gladly provide this information upon request. Additionally, check with the licensing board in the state where the company claims to be licensed. This can add an extra layer of understanding to your situation.

To sum it up, the recovery scam occurs when a scammer defrauds someone, then pretends to be a scam recovery company in order to continue defrauding their victim under a different alias. Online scammers rely on the public’s lack of understanding to perpetuate their scams. The best way to prevent online scams is to educate yourself on the tactics and the ever-evolving forms of online scams. Use extreme caution when communicating with strangers online and when in doubt, ask yourself, “how do they know I was scammed?”

Wanted: The Truth

Active Intel Investigations is here to help you with every aspect of your investigation, from conducting the investigation to preparing evidence to provide it in court.

Get started with your investigation, browse our video library for investigative resources, or schedule a no-obligation consultation with a licensed private investigator to discuss the specifics of your case.