On the coattails of Dave Wilde, I thought I'd give some information about AAFA (Advocates Against Fraud in Advocacy). As an investigative member of this team, I am very vested in outing fraudulent activities of “so called” advocates who take the money and run and even blackmail their clients into silence.
For years, I've watched some of these suspicious people taunt and torture innocent families. Finally, after reading a publication online about one known “scammer” I found it time to really do something about it. After speaking with a few other legitimate advocates, we decided to form an organization. More can be found at: www.advocacyfraud.org
AAFA does not formally investigate anyone. We aren't police or detectives. We use our Internet know-how and informally interview people who are associated with suspected frauds. We run background checks and attempt to match up claims with real documentation. In the end, if we suspect that the claim of fraud is true, we turn over all our findings to the proper authorities. After that, there is little we can and will do unless the authorities call upon us for more information.
We do not take on every case. We've had requests by those who dislike someone and want their name smeared. When we find evidence of flame wars, we walk away. But if an advocate is out there making grandiose claims about their conquests, that's where we come in.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Most real advocates do not “advertise” their cases. If an advocate is tooting their own horn, you probably want to do some research and verify that this person is for real.
- In today's social network world, its very easy for scammers to take on multiple personalities claiming to be clients or victims of advocates. Look for real proof – not just someones words. If the advocate or victim won't send you legitimate proof, it's probably a lie.
- Additionally, look to organizations who have legitimate licenses with their State to do business. If an organization doesn't have a Federal Tax ID (in the US), they are likely not very legitimate. Tax IDs are public information and can be requested from the IRS.
- Lastly, if you aren't sure, you can request AAFA to do some research. We do not charge for this service. And while we are in the process of becoming Not for Profit, we only hope to obtain grants to cover the costs of our research.