The answer is: it depends. A victim of a scam has recourse in the courts. The victim can sue the scammer and get a judgment against the person for fraud but that does not mean the victim will “get their money back” since the scammer may not have assets to attach with the judgment or, as is probable in most fraud crimes, the identity of the scammer may never be known. A victim can also report the scam to criminal authorities who may be able to find the scammer and charge the person with a crime. Sometimes a person convicted of a crime will be required to make restitution to the victims in the form of repayment of the amounts taken. Most states, including New Jersey, have strong consumer protection statutes that can also provide some recourse especially if the scammer is a business.
Finally, the victim of a scam should check their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy as sometimes there is coverage for such losses. Bottom line, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is a scam, so vigilance against scammers is the best defense.—Stephen V. Falanga, Esq., Walsh Pizzi O’Reilly Falanga, LLP