No one wants to be scammed, and yet it’s all too easy to become the victim of a con. If something like this has already happened to you, hiring a lawyer might be your next step.
If you get scammed, you'll be frustrated and will want to correct the situation and possibly even hold the scammer accountable. Depending on the circumstances, you may be out a significant amount of money and maybe feeling embarrassed or otherwise frustrated. In those circumstances, you may be curious about whether or not you can sue someone just for scamming you. Some circumstances allow you to file a lawsuit against a person who has scammed you out of some amount of money or has taken some other illegal activity.
Understanding the Difference Between Civil and Criminal
When it comes to resolving claims related to scams, there are two different types of legal proceedings that might take place, civil and criminal. Criminal claims are those filed by the authorities against someone who has broken the law. Someone who was involved in perpetrating a scam, for example, could be guilty of any number of serious crimes and would be responsible for defending themselves and handling any fallout from a conviction, if applicable. A civil claim, however, is different, and is the answer to the question, "Can you sue someone if they scam you?" because a victim has the legal right to pursue legal action if someone scammed them for money.
Getting Your Money Back
It is very unlikely to get your money back in most consumer scams and, therefore, legal action to sue the scammer who harmed you may be one possible avenue for recovering these funds and closing this chapter of your life—so that you can move on from this unfortunate situation.
It also depends, however, on the type of scam to which you were subjected. If the fraud involved a charge to your telephone bill, for example, you may be able to handle the charge directly with the phone company. If the fraud involves your debit or credit card, you can usually dispute the charges directly with your bank. Online auction sites, such as eBay, also usually have insurance that covers any scam or fraudulent transactions, so you'll want to contact their customer service as soon as possible to dispute the charge.
One of the reasons that criminal and civil cases can be connected is that it is much easier for you to get your money back or sue someone if they scammed you if law enforcement agencies also take legal criminal action against the scammer. You may be entitled to some of the recovery if law enforcement agencies decide to move forward with a legal claim. You also always have the right to pursue the scammer in small claims court or other courts, but it can be almost impossible to collect on that judgment if you do not have an attorney to assist you. This is because the person who carried out the scam may have had their assets liquidated or not have any money, to begin with. Those assets could have also been taken by the authorities, making it very difficult for you to recover the funds.
Difficulties in Identifying Scammers
One of the most common situations faced by plenty of people who have been scammed out of money is that it is difficult or impossible to locate the identity of the person who scammed you. Many scammers go to great lengths to conceal their identity, and this can make it very difficult for you to find their contact information or their full legal name.
If you have the right lawyer assisting you with this process, your attorney may be able to investigate the start of the scam charges and even possibly identify the person responsible for scamming you. However, all of this would be additional legal expenses and time spent on your behalf with no guarantee of recovering the funds stolen from you in or out of court. Your best bet for getting money back after someone has scammed you is to go directly to the financial institution or the company that owns the transaction. They will be able to give you more information about recovering compensation. In some cases, having a criminal case or attempting to recover in small claims court shows good faith that the scam issue is real and that you have already attempted other methods of compensation recovery.
Showing that a criminal case was filed even if the police have been unable to locate the identity of that person or find that person to arrest them can still give you some power when filing a complaint directly with the company responsible for the transaction. Even in the event that you are successful in receiving a judgment from some kind of court, you then have to wait for this person to make a payment. It can be very difficult, especially for those awards given in small claims court to be recovered by the person who has been scammed. Although this is frustrating information, if there is a lot of money on the line and you are concerned about whether or not you can sue someone if they scammed you, it is recommended that you discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced lawyer.
A lawyer may be able to increase your chances of successful scam compensation recovery and can also give you valuable insight into how to prepare your case. A lawyer may also be able to give you an honest assessment about when it doesn't make sense to move forward with a scam recovery lawsuit on your own. In some cases, the time and money spent filling the suit versus the chances of likely funds recovery are so different that a lawyer may recommend that you pursue another avenue and can help point you in the right direction with resources. For more information about how to identify a law firm with relevant experience in this area, and some of the other most common pitfalls affecting people who have lost money in scams, contact Morgan & Morgan today.