Victims of Crime

The State Department is committed to assisting U.S. citizens who become victims of crime while abroad.  We help in two ways:

  • Overseas: consular officers, agents, and staff work with crime victims and help them with the local police and medical systems.
  • In the United States: our office of Overseas Citizens Services will stay in touch with family members in the United States, and help provide U.S.-based resources for the victim when possible.

If you are the victim of a crime overseas:

  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
    • Consular officers are available for emergency assistance 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
    • Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found here or by going to our individual Country Specific Information pages.
    • To contact the Department of State in the U.S. call 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. or Canada) or (202) 501-4444 (from overseas).
    • Contact the local police to report the incident and get immediate help.  Request a copy of the police report.

Consular Assistance to U.S. Crime Victims:

When a U.S. citizen is the victim of a crime overseas, he or she may suffer from physical, emotional or financial injuries.  It can be more difficult because the victim may be in unfamiliar surroundings, and may not know the local language or customs.  Consular officers, consular agents, and local employees at overseas posts know local government agencies and resources in the country where they work.

We can help:

  • Replace a stolen passport
  • Contact family, friends, or employers
  • Obtain appropriate medical care
  • Address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime
  • Explain the local criminal justice process
  • Obtain information about your case
  • Connect you to local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime
  • Obtain information about any local and U.S. victim compensation programs available
  • Provide a list of local lawyers who speak English

We cannot:

  • Investigate crimes
  • Provide legal advice or represent you in court
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for you

Some U.S. cities and communities offer programs to help residents who are victims of overseas crime, including:

  • Rape crisis counseling programs
  • Shelter and counseling programs for battered women
  • Support groups and bereavement counseling for family members and friends of murder victims
  • Diagnostic and treatment programs for child abuse victims
  • Assistance for victims of drunk driving crashes

All U.S. states provide victim compensation programs, however only some states offer benefits to residents who are victims of violent crime overseas.  Most compensation programs require the victim to file a report at the time of the incident, and to provide a copy with the application.  Programs include financial assistance to pay for:

  • Medical costs, including counseling
  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • Lost income or loss of support
  • Expenses related to the repatriation of remains

Information about each state’s compensation program and how to apply for benefits is available from the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Department of State assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the organizations whose names appear below.  This referral does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the U.S. Department of State.

Sexual Assault: 

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) – Toll-free 24/7 hotline for sexual assault counseling and referrals: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).  RAINN also offers a hotline that provides live, secure, anonymous crisis support for victims of sexual violence, their friends, and familiies over RAINN’s website.  The Online Hotline is free of charge and is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week!
  • U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women – Information about local sexual assault victim assistance coalitions.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    •  NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.

Domestic Violence:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – Toll-free 24/7 hotline for crisis counseling and referrals: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women – Information about local domestic violence victim assistance coalitions.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers a safe home and shelter programs, public education, and technical assistance.  They also have a list of state and international organizations that can assist domeestic violence victims.  303-839-1852
  • Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center – The center serves abused Americans, mostly women and children, in both civilian and military populations overseas. The 24/7 international crisis hotline 1-866-USWOMEN (1-866-879-6636) can be called toll free from overseas.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    • NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.

Families and Friends of Murder Victims:

Victims and Families of Drunk Driving Crashes:

General Victim Assistance:

Overseas Resources:

  • Victim Assistance On-line – Information about victim assistance programs in approximately 20 countries.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    • NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.
  • Generally, never send money to someone overseas if you have not met in person – especially if you have met only online.
  • Do not disclose personal details over the phone or online – even in your social media.
  • Refer someone claiming to be a U.S. citizen in distress overseas to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. See https://www.usembassy.gov/ for contact details.
  • Contact Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 if someone claiming to be a U.S. citizen overseas says the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate will not help. We can offer tips for verifying if the situation is legitimate or a scam.
  • Consider sending money to a person claiming to be a U.S. citizen through the Department of State’s “OCS Trust” program, which requires the recipient to show a photo ID to collect the money. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest the person for more information.
  • File a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov if you have been the victim of an online scam.
  • Report scams affecting seniors to the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Aging Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470 and read Fighting Fraud: U.S. Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors.
  • Before traveling abroad, research your destination at travel.state.gov/destination to learn about scams common to those locations.
  • Be aware that something that seems too good to be true usually is.

More information:

https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/sandiego/news/press-releases/fbi-warns-of-online-dating-scams

 

U.S. citizens can become victims of scams at home or abroad. There are many different types of scams, but they all share a common goal: monetary gain for the scammers.

 

Romance Scam:

Someone you have not met in person quickly offers friendship, romance, and/or marriage.

Be skeptical if the person asks for money to pay hospital bills, visa fees, or legal expenses and/or seems to have many sudden problems overseas.

 

Grandparent/Relative Scam:

A person contacts grandparents or other relatives pretending to be a grandchild, niece, nephew, or other family member who needs money right away.

The scammer usually asks the person contacted to keep it a secret.

Reach out immediately and directly to the family member purportedly needing money to verify the situation.

 

Drug Trafficking Scam:

The scammer makes contact by phone or email and offers a job overseas, the opportunity to do charity work, or requests someone to transport documents/items for them.

These scams often begin as romantic relationships.

Typically, the scammer offers to pay all travel expenses and offers free luggage and/or asks the person to stop in a third country to pick up something. The luggage/item(s) will contain drugs, and the victim may face arrest at the destination.

Be cautious if someone asks you to transport anything to another country and report it to airline and border authorities before you travel.

 

Lottery Scam:

The perpetrator promises significant prize money, but the recipient must pay taxes and other processing fees up-front for winning a foreign lottery.

If you did not purchase a lottery ticket in this foreign country, it is highly unlikely that you can win a prize.

Scams Targeting U.S. Citizens Abroad

 

Turkey Drop (Wallet/Money Drop) Scam:

An unsuspecting tourist spots a wallet or packet of cash on the ground. The scammer picks it up and asks if it belongs to the tourist, showing a wad of currency, and tries to get the tourist to touch it. Another person approaches and claims the wallet belongs to him, then accuses the tourist of trying to steal it. The two scammers then either threaten to call the police unless the tourist pays them not to get the police involved, or they ask to see the visitor’s money to prove s/he didn’t steal theirs. When the tourist takes out his money, they grab it and flee.

 

Teahouse/Restaurant/Bar Scam:

A young “English student” or attractive female offers to show a tourist around town and then invites him/her to enjoy food or drink at a nearby establishment. The visitor is often taken to a dimly lit back room and given a menu with small print. Sometimes, the visitor’s beverages will be spiked with drugs to impair vision and/or judgment. When the bill arrives, the host leaves and the establishment sends very large men to force the visitor to pay an exorbitant bill before leaving the premises or face assault.

 

Arthouse/Rug Sale Scam:

A young “art student” will approach a visitor (often at large tourist sites) and ask if s/he likes artwork created by local students. The student invites the visitor to view the artwork at an art studio or gallery and will pour tea and provide snacks while introducing their art. The art student will then pressure the visitor to buy artwork and demand compensation for the hospitality shown. The same scam is used by rug salesman in many countries.

 

Airport/”Bag Watching” Scam:

A friendly stranger asks someone to watch his/her bag or purse. The stranger leaves and returns with a police officer or someone posing as one. The bag may contain drugs or other illegal items. The perpetrators then extort money or other valuables to avoid hassles with the police.

 

Shell/Card Games:

Scammers set up a game on crowded sidewalks in high tourist areas. They use three shells (or cups) with a small ball underneath one. They move them around and then stop, asking the audience to bet which one the ball is under. Their accomplices in the audience guess correctly the first few times, and then they let regular tourists get involved. They allow the tourists to win and place higher and higher bets, until the scammer palms the ball and causes the tourists to lose – sometimes hundreds of dollars.