Updated: Feb 14
On the 19th of January, Ayleen Charlotte, scam victim of the Tinder Swindler was honored as ‘Scam Fighter Person of the Year’ 2023. AA419, which has been fighting online scams since 2003, received the Scam Fighter Award for ‘Best Scam Fighting Organization of the Year’ 2023.
The Scam Fighter Awards is organized annually by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA) together with ScamAdviser, to bring more attention to the importance of fighting online fraud worldwide. According to GASA, last year more than $ 55 billion was lost by nearly 300 million consumers worldwide in online scams. As only an estimated 7% of victims report online scams to law enforcement, these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg.
Ayleen, Scamming the Scammer
The independent Jury, consisting of Donna Gregory (Unit Chief of the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI), Mitchel Chang (Trend Micro) and Jayde Richmond (Executive Director, Scamwatch, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) , selected Ayleen, based on several dozens of nominations from the law enforcement and scam fighting community, as ‘Scam Fighter Person of the Year’ 2023.
Ayleen was a romance scam victim of Shimon Hayut, aka Simon Leviev, who scammed millions of dollars out of women he met through the dating app Tinder. Donna Gregory elaborates, “What makes Ayleen unique is that she not only came forward and reported the crime but also participated in the Netflix documentary Tinder Swindler to gain more attention to this horrendous kind of crime. She is a role model for other (romance) scam victims. Of course, the fact that she as victim also scammed the scammer and was able to recover some of the money she lost, utters respect, but this is something I would not recommend other scam victims to do.“
AA419, Fighting Scams for 20 Years
Artists Against 419 started listing fake banks in 2003 in a central public database. Over the years the database expanded to include other forms of advance fee fraud. The core aa419 team has always been small, with a large fan base depending on the activity type. Aa419 has four volunteers doing actual listings, plus another eight researchers. The aa419 membership also includes members from other anti-abuse groups, working with aa419 to expose advance fee fraudsters in a central database.
The database allows a potential scam victim to check a website they had been sent by a possible fraudster, also querying if a domain is fraudulent even though it's not listed. This list now contains ~157,000 entries will full data, and is one of the world's largest manually collected databases of fraudulent websites, making aa419 recognized for its expertise to identify scams by several law enforcement agencies across the globe.
Jury member Jayde Richmond, commented, “AA419 is a research community that provides a valuable service to help tackle online fraud and scams. It’s international group of members emphasizes that online fraud is best combated by cross border cooperation." Mitchel Chang added, “Trend Micro recognized AA419 as an excellent source for manually vetted scams. Their work is one of the many pillars many security companies rely on to keep consumers worldwide safe.”