In a world where online fraud and scams continue to pose significant threats to individuals and communities, the efforts of dedicated individuals, organizations and tools in the fight against digital deception deserve recognition. The Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA), in collaboration with ScamAdviser, recently unveiled the winners of the highly-anticipated Scam Fighter of the Year Awards. The awards aim to shine a spotlight on those making exceptional contributions to turning the tide on scams and online fraud globally, honouring their efforts over the past 12 months.
Best Scam Fighting Individual Award Winner: Erin West
The coveted title of Best Scam Fighting Individual goes to Erin West, a prosecutor with the REACT Task Force in Santa Clara County. West's exceptional work in combating high-tech crimes, particularly her success in taking down international SIM swappers and disrupting fraudulent call centres, stood out among the nominees. Her commitment to battling romance investment scammers, known as "pig butcherers," is a testament to her dedication to addressing a diverse range of sophisticated scams. West's expertise and proactive approach in the evolving landscape of high-tech financial crimes make her a true champion in the fight against digital fraud.
"I can't stop, won't stop until the day I open my email box and find it empty. Every day I am deluged with victims of pig butchering, and I am gravely concerned about the transnational organized crime that is powered by human trafficking victims. I am so honored to be chosen for this award. It shows me that this work resonates with others and it motivates me to continue. I'm grateful," says Erin West.
Runners-up for Best Scam Fighting Individual:
Pierogi (Scammer Payback): Pierogi is widely recognized by his 7.05 million YouTube followers for his efforts to stop scammers. His YouTube channel, Scammer Payback, is praised for exposing scammers, educating the public, and collaborating with law enforcement. Pierogi's dedication, particularly in tackling Indian scam call centres, has led to the conviction of major scam enterprises.
Nazia Karrim (South African Fraud Prevention Service): Nazia has built a reputation as an innovator with the Yima scam vulnerability scanner, educating South Africans on internet dangers. With over 20 years in fraud risk management, Nazia's expertise and passion for crime prevention through technology make her a standout professional in her field.
Best Scam Fighting Organization Award Winner: Watchlist Internet
Watchlist Internet, an independent information platform based in Austria, emerged as the winner in the Best Scam Fighting Organization category. The organization's commitment to providing useful, current and easy-to-understand information on internet scams and frauds sets it apart. Watchlist Internet serves not only Austria but the entire German-speaking region, offering valuable insights into current fraud cases and advising on protective measures.
Their extensive coverage of topics, ranging from subscription traps to phishing and brand counterfeiting, underscores their comprehensive approach to combating online threats. Watchlist Internet's recognition as the best scam fighting organization highlights the importance of awareness and education in the ongoing battle against online scams.
Thorsten Behrens, Project Manager at Österreichisches Institut für angewandte Telekommunikation (ÖIAT), expressed his gratitude, saying, "We are incredibly honoured and thrilled that the Watchlist Internet has been recognized as the Scam Fighting Organization of the Year. This achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering dedication and support of the community: users who report scams daily and our partners in Austria and internationally. Thanks!"
Louise Beltzung, Head of Research at ÖIAT, emphasized our collective commitment to internet safety, stating, "We all share the same mission – to make the internet a safer place for everyone. As we step into 2024, we see unprecedented challenges and want to ensure that our message and resources reach better people across demographics. Here's to a year of scam fighting!"
Runners-up for Best Scam Fighting Organization:
BlockchainUnmasked: BlockchainUnmasked is recognized for exceptional contributions to cryptocurrency fraud investigation and prevention. Their involvement in a significant $70 million fraud case showcases their capability in handling complex investigations. Their commitment to aiding individuals in scam recovery and loss prevention has been highly commended.
Trilogy Media: Trilogy Media, a YouTube channel fronted by Ashton Bingham and Art Kulik, is acknowledged for its precise approach in dealing with scammers. Their tireless and innovative efforts in combating scams, along with their dedication and unique blend of education and entertainment, have earned them widespread respect and recognition.
Best Scam Fighting Tool: BBB Scam Tracker
The winner in the Best Scam Fighting Tool category is BBB Scam Tracker, a free and accessible tool developed by the Better Business Bureau. This tool empowers users to report suspected scams, fostering a community-driven platform where individuals can share their experiences and warn others about potential cons. The unique role of BBB Scam Tracker in helping people avoid millions of dollars in potential losses showcases its impact in reaching and assisting a broad audience. This award recognizes the tool's significant contribution to the fight against scams, emphasizing the power of community engagement and information-sharing in preventing financial losses.
"We are incredibly proud of BBB Scam Tracker and grateful for this recognition from the Global Anti-Scam Alliance," says Melissa Lanning Trumpower, Executive Director of BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. "Thanks to the dedicated, collaborative work of BBB professionals across the United States and Canada, BBB Scam Tracker allows people to search previous reports to determine if they’re being targeted. As a result, we estimate that our scam-fighting tool helped people avoid losing $24.3 million in 2023. Thank you, GASA and the esteemed panel of judges, for honoring BBB Scam Tracker with this award, and thank you to our partners, Amazon and Capital One, whose support enabled us to rebuild the platform in 2022.”
Following the launch of the upgraded BBB Scam Tracker in 2022, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust is committed to empowering individuals further. Melissa Trumpower reveals, "We introduced a Scam Prevention Guide on the homepage of BBB Scam Tracker to help people gain the knowledge they need to spot and avoid scams. Now, we're working on a Scam Recovery Toolkit, a new feature that will connect scam victims with the resources they need to restore their financial, mental, and emotional well-being. Our goal is to continue building out the BBB Scam Tracker platform to empower people to protect themselves from fraud."
Runners-up for Best Scam Fighting Tool
Fake-Shop Detector Plug-in (Österreichisches Institut für angewandte Telekommunikation - ÖIAT): The Fake-Shop Detector checks online shops for red flags using a database and real-time analysis by artificial intelligence. With over 1 million shop evaluations, it contributes significantly to scam prevention.
Guardio: Guardio is commended for its ability to block scam websites, links, and pop-ups, providing a comprehensive defence mechanism against online scams and frauds.
After a public nomination round, a jury of distinguished anti-scam professionals and previous winners selected one victor from each category. The panel consisted of Brook Stein (Director of Partner Marketing, Trend Micro), Jeff Kuo (CEO, Gogolook) and Jayde Richmond (General Manager, National Anti-Scam Centre at ACCC) as well as previous winners Derek Smythe (AA419) and Ayleen Charlotte (Romance Scam Speaker).
In celebrating Erin West, Watchlist Internet and BBB Scam Tracker, we commend these champions in the fight against scams. Their dedication, expertise and innovative approaches serve as inspirations to all those working tirelessly to create a safer online environment. Prof. Jorij Abraham, Managing Director of GASA and ScamAdviser, expressed, "We all share a common mission to build a network to defeat the networks of scammers who plague consumers. Thousands of scam fighters across the world do not get the credit they deserve. We hope putting the spotlight on our winners & runners-up and spreading the news of their good deeds to the world may perhaps inspire the next generation of scam fighters to join us and continue this vital work."
The Scam Fighter of the Year Awards not only recognizes past achievements but also reinforces the importance of continued collaboration and vigilance in the ongoing battle against online fraud. Congratulations to the winners and runners-up, and may their efforts continue to make a lasting impact on the digital landscape!