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Funding drought shuts e-victims support group

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Updated Lack of funding means that a UK-based charitable organisation that helps victims of electronic crime will be forced to close next month.

E-Victims.Org, established three years ago, has offered advice to individuals and small businesses on online security problems ranging from being harassed on Facebook to dealing with the latest internet scams, such as the fake Microsoft Support 'your PC has a virus' telephone scam. It will be unable to provide advice from 15 September onwards, despite an increased need for its services.

The organisations website receives 300-500 hits per day. It also handles a daily caseload involving 5-10 who contact it directly for help.

“Having worked with thousands of victims, I can say that the advice and expertise E-Victims.Org offered is needed more than ever," said founder Jennifer Perry. "But although the demand for advice and support has increased substantially over the last few years, we have not been able to secure the ongoing funding needed to continue to run the charity.”

The Community Interest Company* was established because net users were left confused about who to turn to when dealing with e-crime, e-commerce  and anti-social behaviour problems, a problem just as acute now as it was three years ago.

Other enforcement and support organisations in the area lacked the resources or expertise to provide the kind of advice E-Victims.Org specialised in and often used in referrals.

E-Victims.Org was run by Jennifer and Roland Perry (of LINX fame). They established the organisation after tiring of inconclusive industry discussion on the need for better support for victims of e-crime that ran on for years without anything getting done.

They hoped that the internet industry would financially support the group once it was established but this funding never came. Even though experts at Cambridge University's Security Labs and elsewhere were generous in donating their time and expertise in making sure the victim benefited from the most informed advice a lack of funding and seeming wider industry and government indifference ultimately proved fatal.

The imminent closure of E-Victims.Org leaves a gap in support services that will difficult to plug. The Network for Surviving Stalking will take up its harassment caseload (50 per cent of its workload) while Action Fraud and Consumer Direct can respond to scams but gaps will still remain.

“The need for e-crime victim support is great, but the funding from the government and the internet industry is negligible," Perry said. "It would help enormously if existing support charities became more internet aware. For example, domestic violence support groups need advice on how to keep ex-partners from stalking their victims via the internet.”

That may not be easy.

Perry told El Reg that conventional Victim Support never got involved with victims of online crime, for example. "It's difficult to get traditional support agencies engaged with online," she said.

Howard Lamb from FACT and ex-member of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said: “E-Victims will be sadly missed. They have made a huge effort to assist individuals who have been a victim in the ‘e’ world. I have directed people to E-Victims and they have all received sound advice that is not available elsewhere.

“E-Victims.Org has developed a wealth of expertise and experience by working with victims and a range of other support and enforcement agencies. It is with great regret that we can’t continue to develop the web site, and this knowledge may be lost.” ®

Bootnote

E-Victims.Org is a charitable Community Interest Company. This means it is asset locked and regulated like a charity but can engage in commercial activity. It is a not for profit run for a charitable purpose but not a registered charity.

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