In rare cases, victims may be contacted about an ongoing investigation of their case or charges that have been filed. Federal and state victim rights laws require that victims be notified of any court events, and of the order of restitution if convicted (in most cases). Other rights may also incur that should be shared by those offices upon contact.
If you believe the fraud perpetrator has assets, you may be able to recover losses through a civil lawsuit. Contact your state or local Bar Association for the names of attorneys who specialize in this area of law to determine if your case is appropriate for civil action. This normally would only apply for known perpetrators within the U.S.
Restitution is an order by the sentencing judge, ordering a convicted defendant to pay identified victims for certain losses as a result of the crime. In many types of federal and state crimes, it is mandatory for a convicted defendant to be ordered to pay restitution.
Unfortunately, as a practical matter, a convicted defendant who has no money or limited potential to make money may be unlikely to ever make meaningful restitution in a federal or local prosecution, particularly in fraud cases with many victims.
In some cases, law enforcement authorities overseas who have enough leads may apprehend the scammers and seize property purchased using the money taken from many victims. There have been instances where law enforcement has been able to sell the property and allocate proceeds to victims and/or their families back in the U.S. However, in most cases, the federal and state prosecutors work to ensure that any assets owned by a sentenced defendant, can be considered for payment of court-ordered restitution. A federal order of restitution is enforceable for twenty years, from the time a criminal judgment requiring restitution is filed (plus the time incarcerated).
We would like to acknowledge the Los Angeles Scam Working Group and Bet Tzedek, whose research informed this article.