If you are the victim of a scammer, you would prefer the scammer to be caught by the police and brought to justice. But do you have your money back? Or do you have to take action to go after your missing money? And what should you do then?
What can the police and what not
It is always advisable to report the scammer. Scams just don’t have the highest priority. Violent cases, murder and burglary often receive more attention. Moreover, investigative work in fraud and fraud cases takes a lot of manpower and time; scammers often work smart. So you should not have too high expectations of detecting and prosecuting scammers. Moreover, and that is what this article is about, recovering the embezzled money or claiming damages is not the job of the police. You need to see a lawyer for that.
What can a lawyer do for you?
A lawyer can tackle the scammer for you through a lawsuit (civil procedure). A criminal case only leads to the fraudster being punished (or maybe not even, because fraud and fraud are difficult to prove in criminal law). With a judgment of the criminal court you will not have your money back. You need a judgment from the civil court to order the scammer to pay back. With the judgment you can seize the income and property of the scammer or file for bankruptcy. A judgment is valid for 20 years. In this approach, the rules of the Civil Code (BW) are applied. Words such as fraud and fraud do not appear in this code. The lawyer will file a claim based on tort or undue payment. If you’ve been ripped off by entering into a contract, he could bet on fraud, misrepresentation, or abuse of circumstances, and there are a few other options. It often happens that a scammer or fraudster can be properly tackled through civil law, but not through criminal law. This is an important area of law for fighting fraud and dealing with scammers. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve been to the police and been told you don’t stand a chance.
Powers of a lawyer
Your lawyer has certain legal powers that ordinary citizens do not have, comparable to the police. For example, a lawyer can get private addresses of company executives, he can research relocations, he can find out if the scammer has any cars or houses in his name, if he is married, has income, and so on. One of the most important powers of a lawyer is the right to levy an unannounced attachment for you in advance. For example on the bank balance or on a house of the scammer. In this way, your claim is secured and the scammer can no longer transfer his money or property if you track him down.
Experience with scams
One lawyer is not the other. Your case will of course have a better chance if you engage a law firm that has experience with fraud cases. Through experience, the lawyer knows how scammers work, how they divert money and how you can put pressure on them to get money back. Scammers who have been scamming people for years try to stay under the radar. They use tricks to avoid being found. For example, they drive an expensive car that is not in their name. An experienced lawyer can find out and deal with this. Or they don’t use a Dutch bank account, but cash. If you know where and how, you can still seize it.
If the scammer has been ordered to repay money, and he does not pay, it is also possible to file for bankruptcy. Nobody wants to go bankrupt, not even a scammer. If bankruptcy threatens, the scammer may still come up with money. If he really goes bankrupt, the bankruptcy trustee can investigate. If the scammer does not cooperate, he can be held hostage in the detention center. He has to surrender his passport and can no longer travel. The trustee receives the mail from the scammer. If the scammer has a bank account abroad or rents a safe deposit box where he keeps cash, he will be caught off guard. The trustee can sell property abroad, such as a house, in order to pay the debts.
Litigation in fraud cases
Over the years, our office has gained a lot of experience in conducting lawsuits against scammers. For example, we once helped an entrepreneur with a shop in Amsterdam with a scam. He had a brain injury from a bicycle accident. Another entrepreneur wanted to “help” him, but in fact he only helped himself.
Entrepreneurs can also be victims
Not only private individuals can be victims of a scammer. Unfortunately, corporate fraud is a regular occurrence. It also happened to a client of our office, a childcare company that went bankrupt because the company had been emptied by the bookkeeper. The debts were so high that the ex-entrepreneurs ended up in a hopeless debt position. The solution to this is the Debt Rescheduling Act (WSNP) . However, the court did not allow the ex-entrepreneurs to participate in this arrangement. The court found that the ex-entrepreneurs should have paid more attention when the fraudster struck. We then tackled the scammer by reclaiming the embezzled money and seizing his bank account. We have also lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal subsequently gave the ex-entrepreneur the opportunity to resolve the debt problems through the WSNP. If you yourself get financial problems due to a scammer, it pays to tackle the scammer and in this case it was even necessary to get out of financial problems.
Posted by Marius Hupkes
Marius Hupkes is a lawyer