One particular writer has been keen to raise allegations that various sites around the Internet as being scams and have been operated as a rip-off showing much anger in their allegations, but unable to identify little actionable evidence to support such claims. In law a rip-off or scam may be actionable as the criminal offenses of fraud or deception, but there may be an action in civil law as a deceit. Legally these concepts are very complex and require proof of specific wrongdoing in order to obtain any remedy whether criminal or civil.
This article has been provided for educational purposes and the reader must understand that none of its contents may be construed as provision of legal advice.
Law enforcement agencies take on-line fraud very seriously, indeed the FBI estimates the value of online fraud to exceed $100 million with more than 100,000 victims and of course their figures are only limited to the United States of America, not other international jurisdictions, but this relates to the following categories:
- The dark web
- Various on-line auction irregularities
- Non-delivery of produce purchased through the Internet
- Credit/debit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Securities fraud
- MLM and digital pyramid schemes
But little or no effort is spent investigating so-call scams because one or another site failed. While as the FBI states "fraudsters... migrate from one fraudulent scheme to another", it is important to recognise that just because an entrepreneur creates one internet site that fails then they set-up another which also fails does not necessarily mean there is a scam or fraud involved, it is simply an idea that fails.
Evidence of Criminal Activity
How can criminal intent for fraud be proved? This is best proven by documentary evidence, for example emails from a site owner showing the intent not to pay contributors, such evidence can be hard to obtain. Truth is this can be difficult to obtain because it is not possible to look inside the mind of the individual who is alleged to have committed the crime, but it may be inferred by the course of conduct, however running multiple failed businesses is not proof of fraud.
The type of evidence required to prove such an allegation requires both relevance and weight. For evidence to be relevant it must tend to prove (or of-course disprove) a fact at issue in the case and for it to carry weight the source must be reliable and carry persuasive power. What the police would be looking for here (in the case of an alleged scam for a site like Bubblews) is emails between company directors of an intention to fraudulently withhold payments from content creators or an admission of this by the owner or company officials. Truth is most writers who have complained about not being paid also confess to breaking the site's terms and conditions, clearly not adding any weight to their individual allegations.
Proof for the crime of fraud can be very difficult, it requires that each alleged event occurred and be factually proven. Each allegation requires proof that an intentional fraud was committed, normally documentary evidence of specific facts is necessary in any court of law. Making an allegation that you have been a victim of fraud is much easier than legally proving it to a court.
There MUST be proof that when the site was built (or significantly modified) the owners made a representation known to be false or misleading, further they acted dishonestly with intent to gain pecuniary advantage against the interests of contributors.