Posted 31 Jan 2007 21:06
Most people who have been victimized by a Scammer feels helpless, hopeless, and useless to do anything about it. That's just not correct. Doing nothing allows these scammers to flourish and keep thinking they can get away with it over and over again.
Here are the steps you can take legally to fight back. I'm putting my Intl Law training to good use and giving free advice. Please remember these are broad steps as legalities will differ from country to country. I'm going to highlight the bigger countries that are in the WTO and that are a party to the GATT and hope others will contribute.
If you've been victimized by a China based company:
The Chinese government has been very diligent over the last few years to go after, prosecute, and incarcerate people that defraud and traffic in **** goods. You most likely will not make a financial recovery, but you can take satisfaction in knowing you put them in a China prison.
If you're a US Citizen, you can file a civil suit in most US courts as long as you have the full contact information of the company or person (name, address, city, province, zip). Once served, and a court date set, the court will issue a vedict in your favor if they don't reply. If they do, all the better for you for presenting your case. With that verdict, you can take it to the local provincial government of China (you'll need a Chinese lawyer) to begin the process there.
*caveat - this process is tedious to say the least and can be expensive. If you've been taken for under $5000usd, it would not be worth your effort to go to this length. Stick with the criminal side and settle for the prison life for the scammer.
If however, you're dealing in large amounts ($30,000+usd), you can also take your claim to the world court, for which Chinese companies (under WTO acceptance) are liable to. For this you will need an Intl Attorney.
If you've been victimized by a USA based company:
The USA, in my opinion, has the greatest legal system in the world for getting scammers. In US law, not only can their be civil penalties (tremble damages, fines, forfeitures, and seizures), but there is also criminal liabilities as well.
This is what you do. Notify(call) the court of the city and/or county of the address where the company and/or person lives. You can google this information. eg. If the scammer lives in Smyrna,GA you can google (Smyrna,GA+ civil courts). Most courts have a general inquiry line where the person job is to render 'non-legal' but helpful advice on how to file, where to file, and to what specific court to file for your given situation. If you're dealing with a large amount of money, it is always best to get a lawyer and let them do all the leg work for you. You can google the ABA (American Bar Association) and call their hotline. You can explain your situation to them and they will refer you to at least 2 lawyers who can assist you.
If you've been scammed by a EU member country:
My legal experience with EU coutries has been limited to the UK, Britain specifically. The UK and EU has similar procedures like in the USA. However, because the EU is so expanisve, and can be country specific, it's best to get a lawyer for the specific country, as the amount of money that is being litigated will decide what court will here it. If you've been scammed out of a lot of money, the gerneral assembly EU Council can hear the case against any of their members. This is usally reserved when you're doing volume Intl Trade.
Who and Whom can be sued?:
I'm going to give a general answer, but you should always check with each individual country for the specifics.
Generally you can sue : 1. The Individual 2. The Company 3. The Officers of the Corporation. 4. and Occasionally any company or organization that was a facilitator of the fraud. You can sue any or all, jointly or severably in your lawsuit.
On TM someone was telling me about how they got scammed by a Gold member of Alibaba and asked me if they could sue Alibaba. That's a tricky question. I don't want to answer that question in it's entirety for fear of reprisal. I will say this. In USA there is a legal doctrine called: 'willful blindness.' Under that doctrine you can be held responsible if you have a conscious purpose of avoiding learning the truth. In layman terms it's defined like this: 'Any company/individual who seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable.' After that statement, I'll let you be the judge on liabilty.
Paperwork you'll need to file a complaint and/or a case
Sometimes there are legitimate misunderstandings that happen in Intl Trade. Misunderstanding aren't scams. If you're prepared to say you've been scammed, you will have to provide documention of the scam in court. This will include:
1. Full contact details of the company
2. Company registration information
3. Contracts in the language of all countries involved
4. Proforma Invoice in the language of all parties involved
5. Written coorespondence and request (snail mail, e-mail, IM logs)
6. Your full contact details
7. Your companies registration information
8. Names of all people whom you've cooresponded with
9. Proof of sending financial payment (TT. Wire, L/C, etc)
These are the basic documents you will need to begin. Depending on the amount involved, and the size of the company, this could take months or years to resolve.
Simple steps to take to avoid being scammed:
1. Perform Due Diligence
2. Always ask for and require Full contact details that can be VERIFIED.
3. Never send money through non-traceable instruments (eg WU, Money Gram, etc)
4. If sending by TT, contact the bank FIRST to verify the name, address, company name, and phone number. You can't open a **** in China or any country I know of, without providing identification and proof of residency. Have your bank contact the receiving bank, and ask the bank to fax you their information they used for opening the account. Match this information with the information you should already have. If information doesn't match, there's a reason.
5. If something sounds too good to be true, it's because it is. Think rationally at all times and you'll make wiser choices.
One more very important caveat:
No court in any jurisdiction or country will allow someone to file a civil claim if they've been scammed by someone selling **** goods. This is called the 'clean hands' doctrine. In order to seek relief from the court, you must first represent that you were acting 'cleanly.' In other words, anyone buying **** goods, knowingly or unknowingly on Alibaba or any other site, will be denied civil relief. If this is you, and you've been scammed. Your loss.
I hope others from other countries will post the legal steps for pursuing scammers in their country.
WDC Intl Inc