Scam Victim Solution Center: How to Choose the Right Jurisdiction for Your Fraud Report


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Explanations & Definitions





Disclaimer: We are not attorneys and don't pretend to be.

In our experience, the solutions offered in this section have proven to be effective; however, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney.

If you have doubts about Fraud Aid, do not hesitate to contact Federal (FBI, Secret Service, RCMP) Scotland Yard, or local law enforcement to check us out.


Stay out of debt and stay out of jail:

The legal truth about work-at-home money, package, and check forwarding jobs


How to really verify a check

Your ID Theft Prevention To-Do List

What to do about threats from scammers




Talking to the right jurisdiction and navigating your way through the law enforcement system without wasting your time


On this page:

Definition of jurisdiction

Definition of fraud with intent 

Jurisdiction specialties 

Inter-jurisdiction challenges 

Inter-jurisdiction cooperation 

The cost of a fraud investigation   


On the next page:

Helping to defray the expenses of a fraud investigation at no cost to you

The biggest obstacle for investigators

Understanding fraud evidence that demonstrates intent 

Losses to a group of scam victims

Your role as a scam victim or someone who has knowledge of a scam being perpetrated on others


  • You can contact any law enforcement agency anywhere in the world to report a fraud.  That doesn't mean you will be heard. 

  • Not every law enforcement jurisdiction investigates fraud. 

  • Some jurisdictions only investigate certain frauds over certain loss amounts.

  • This guide will lead you to the right place or places to report fraud.


jurisdiction definition

ju?ris?dic?tion (jo̵or′is diks̸hən)


  1. the administering of justice; authority or legal power to hear and decide cases

  2. authority or power in general

  3. a sphere of authority

  4. the territorial range of authority

  5. a law court or system of law courts



The definition of fraud with intent


The definition of fraud can vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Here is the basic rule of thumb:


Intentionally manipulating, persuading, or misleading a person through lies and half truths, to the purposeful detriment of that person and to the personal benefit and profit of the manipulator.


Manipulation and persuasion are acceptable so long as they are used for the benefit of the person who is being manipulated or persuaded, for instance to help a child avoid bad choices or to set someone up for a surprise party.


Advertising manipulates our feelings about a product or service, but that is not a scam unless the product or service is represented to do more than it does or can do (misrepresentation).



Jurisdiction specialties

There are many types of Federal law enforcement and local police offices.  They do not all investigate the same kinds of crimes; however, their sphere of authority often overlaps and this causes confusion for fraud victims.

For instance, both the FBI and the Secret Service investigate bank fraud, cyber fraud, and money laundering.  The Securities and Exchange Commission plus individual state commissions and Secretaries of State all investigate securities frauds.

It can be very hard to decide where to file your complaint and how many jurisdictions will be interested enough in your complaint to investigate it.  The trick is to understand each jurisdiction's current priorities, an easier task than you may think.

This section of the Scam Solution Center will guide you toward deciding where and when to file your complaint.


Inter-jurisdiction challenges

What takes place in one precinct, county, state, territory, or country will not automatically be investigated by enforcement in another precinct, county, state, territory, or country.  Statutes (laws), priorities, viewpoints, practices, attitudes, affiliations, cultures, and the entire local or national justice system can be totally different from area to the next.

Cross-border investigations are particularly challenging because they can involve different languages on top of the other challenges.

Inter-jurisdiction cooperation can be a nightmare for the officers or agents involved and for fraud victims.

Many scammers are aware of this, operating in multiple jurisdictions to make investigation difficult.

For instance, you - the victim - live in Anytown, Florida.  The criminal lives in Outer Slobovia.  Who has jurisdiction?  You can report the crime to your local police or to a Federal field office but neither of those jurisdictions has any authority in Outer Slobovia, whose law enforcement may or may not be willing to lend a hand in apprehending the villain.  Frequently - not.


Inter-jurisdiction cooperation

The United States has established several enforcement agencies to handle cross-jurisdiction crimes within its borders.  Some countries have also established agencies for this purpose, some have not.

Inter-agency cooperation can be as problematic as relations between special interest groups or even family members.  Just like a sports team, budgets and promotions are based on wins. 

Getting credit for an arrest is very important to both the investigator and the office in which the investigator works.

In American slang, making an arrest is called a "collar."  The first detective or agent to get the case is called the "lead" detective or agent.

Even when an investigation is run by more than one investigator, credit for a collar may primarily go to one investigator and/or to the lead investigator while the other investigators are credited with participation.  Investigation teams may also share the collar. 

A good arrest record makes everyone in that office or department look good, leading to larger budgets, higher pay grades, and and an envious reputation.

The arrest credit counts for even more when the criminal charges "stick," meaning the arrest led to a successful conviction.

While this all makes for a competitive atmosphere, when inter-jurisdiction cooperation does occur it's because the individual participating investigators are all angry about the criminal for the same reason, bringing them together as unit focused on a common goal. 

Since most officers joined the force because they hate crime, and since detectives by their vey nature enjoy solving puzzles, inter-jurisdiction teams are frequently very successful even though it means the credit is spread very thin.


The cost of a fraud investigation

A white collar crime investigation costs Federal law enforcement agencies anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 in man hours, and that's for any easy investigation. 

Our local, state and Federal taxes pay for those investigations, and unless we are willing to withstand a huge tax increase, the money simply isn't there to spend $100,000 on a $4,000 loss.

That's why nearly every jurisdiction has a loss threshold that can run from $100,000 to $500,000 or more.  This means that the enforcement office cannot afford to open a file for an individual loss that is less than its threshold amount.

The cost of a fraud investigation can be so prohibitive that some local Sheriff and police offices do not investigate fraud at all.




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