Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathy Waters.
Kathy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My mother’s friend fell victim to a romance scammer. After researching who the real man in the photo was, I was able to locate Col. Bryan Denny on LinkedIn. Not being thoroughly educated in the scam, Bryan and I began to further research just how extensive this type of scam was upon our platforms. After months of searching and documenting thousands of accounts, we opted to write a report to Facebook on the faults of their reporting system and their inability to recognize the fraudulent accounts. This landed Bryan and I a sit down meeting with a team at Facebook. After additional meetings, and over two years later, we came to the conclusion that the reporting system within Facebook’s platforms was not showing progress and therefore something more needed to be done.
Bryan and I began setting up congressional meetings and are now focusing on a law that has been in place since 1996 known as the Communication Decency Act. In this law Section 230 ensures social media platforms the inability to be held responsible for any 3rd party posts, this including criminal acts such as money laundering, identity theft, falsifying government ID’s, etc. This law is significantly outdated, currently supporting online criminal acts, and morally irresponsible to all social media patrons. Amending this law is far overdue, and our advocacy will once again be shared with another eight congressional departments this November.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hearing of the stories from scam survivors and those whom identities have been stolen to commit such manipulative crimes, day in and day out, is heart-wrenching. It’s a struggle to know so many are out there being victimized as we speak, with minimal awareness from the platforms to date.
Another struggle in this fight would have to be the shame and embarrassment of the victims to move forward with reporting. An issue can not be fixed unless the problem is known. This is why it is so critical for all victims of romance scams (and other cyber scams) to report to the IC3 at IC3.gov. This is a site hosted by the FBI that collects victim’s reported information and holds all evidence for possible cases future and present. The site also provides an annual report based on all cybercrimes reported. These numbers can also help in meetings, like Bryan and I attend, to show just how significant this crime is, and how much monies are leaving the states because of this crime. Last year alone, the United States lost $362,500,761.00 to Confidence Fraud/Romance scams. During a phone conference in June of 2019 with the Section Chief of the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI, the chief reiterated this number is only “scratching the surface” due to so many non-reporting victims.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
Col. Bryan Denny (Ret.) and I (Kathy Waters) are advocates against romance scams. We run a site called Advocating Against Romance Scammers at advocatingforu.com, which provides information on Romance Scams, the law we are working to revise (Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act), and much of our proof as to why this law must be amended.
We work as a team to voice what many others may be afraid or embarrassed to. There’s a lot of pride when talking about how far we have come in this journey. It’s no secret that it takes a deal of time for any change within our government, but we are getting in front of those who have the ability to champion the proposal and make a change that will bring a safer and more secure environment to platforms. Not many people can say they’ve met with Facebook on multiple occasions, and we are very proud of the work that got us there, however, we are more proud of the fact that there are thousands of people that rely on our advocacy on behalf of their need for justice. Maybe pride isn’t the word, honored is a better description.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to us is a show of interest, the ability to bring awareness and a thank you from each victim we help. We have seen a great deal more education on the issue of romance scams within the past year. There has been a significant amount of inquiries in regard to what is being done, and with those questioning, means there’s interest in change.
We hope to see platforms taking more responsibility on the issue of cyber scams by incorporating more education upon their platforms, initiating updated technology that will conform to the latest cyber safety needs, and providing the amount of staff needed to deliver the kind of customer service any other company is required to produce.
- Website: advocatingforu.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org