We respect your privacy. All email addresses you provide will be used just for sending this story. Just over a year ago, the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—had pleaded guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites. According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud. The FBI says it may be embarrassing for victims to report this type of fraud scheme because of the personal relationships that are developed, so the real numbers are probably higher. As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. Eventually a pitch for money comes.
What It’s Like to Lose a Million Dollars to an Online Dating Scam
As the number of dating sites and social media apps has gone up , so too has the number of romance scams reported — from 17, in , 11, in , and 8, in The Cut spoke to the victim of one such scam, Debby Montgomery Johnson, now 60, who lost more than a million dollars to a scammer between and How did you meet the man who would eventually scam you?
In our series of letters from African writers, Nigerian novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani laments that internet scammers have become role models.
Romance scams involve the promise of romantic companionship or love, but end up resulting in loss for the person who is scammed. Romance scams typically involve obtaining money or other items of value through false pretenses. Trust is gained by pretending to be a potential romantic partner. There are many different kinds of romance scams, some of which take place internationally, and dating fraud of any type can result in criminal charges for those who are accused of operating scams.
Being charged for Internet dating fraud or dating site scams can mean facing federal charges or state charges, either of which can carry long prison sentences. It is not uncommon for involvement with an online dating scam to lead to indictment on multiple counts. We know how to aggressively fight charges and we have a long track record of successfully helping clients to avoid prison or to end up with reduced sentences. Dating fraud involves using the Internet to connect with someone by posing as a potential date or romantic partner.
Often, a fake picture is used of someone who is very attractive, making it easier to entice people to respond to romantic propositions. A fake profile is created with inaccurate information posted to attract someone to scam. The creation of a fake online identity is called catfishing. Once someone has responded or seems receptive to a romantic relationship, emails and other messages are exchanged. Trust is built over time.
The FBI’s Nigerian email scam ring bust shows how the billion-dollar global fraud has evolved
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Number of cases rose from to in only two years.
Romance scammers often use online dating sites and create fake profiles or use a real person’s identity, the FTC says. Scammers also cultivate.
On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few.
Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts. For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market.
Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes. Now Facebook and Instagram provide fraudsters with greater reach and resources, enabling them to more convincingly impersonate others and more precisely target victims. Officials from the United States military and the F. When The Times followed the trail of one scam, it led to Nigeria, where six men said in interviews that they swindled Westerners over the internet because it paid far more than honest work, which they said was hard to find.
In Nigeria, the scammers are aided by plentiful internet access and fluency in English.
9 things scammers tell you
Digital communication technologies can overcome physical, social and psychological barriers in building romantic relationships. Online romance scams are a modern form of fraud that has spread in Western societies along with the development of social media and dating apps. Through a fictitious Internet profile, the scammer develops a romantic relationship with the victim for months, building a deep emotional bond to extort economic resources in a manipulative dynamic.
Nigerian romance scammer reveals his playbook Exposing Nigerian online love scammers | 60 Minutes Australia San Diego woman falls for online dating scam, local FBI reveals alarming romance scam numbers.
Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. Ten men have been charged with conspiring to launder illegal proceeds that were fraudulently obtained as a result of Nigerian romance scam operation targeting multiple victims. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in October and unsealed today after seven suspects were apprehended in early morning operations executed by the FBI in three states.
Five defendants were arrested in Norman, Oklahoma, one defendant was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, and one defendant was arrested in Long Beach, California. Three other defendants remain at large. The indictment alleges that since , the co-conspirators concealed the proceeds of romance scam operations by moving money between and among multiple bank accounts that were opened using fraudulent identity documents to obscure the source of the funds and the identities of the co-conspirators.
Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U.
Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don’t realize they are a victim until it is too late.
Online dating scams (also referred to as internet romance scams) are attempts These scams frequently originate overseas, particularly West Africa or Eastern.
In short the immigration service was not involved and took it very personally that they were used in the scam. The police man assigned to protect me from the others is now one of my best friends and thought enough of me after all the crap I brought to their door step to introduce me to a woman that is a cousin of his wifes and we are now dating. What I should have done in the first place is go to Ghana on vacation and let it be known I was interested in a girlfriend and the whole country would have offered me their sisters.
It would have been cheaper. As it is I know all of the immigration officers and all of the police at the airport police station and there are no dishonest immigration officials or dishonest police investigators. The arrested man had bought a car with my money and the reduced his sentince if he signed it over to me and I agreed after the uncle pleaded with me to show mercy. They released the man and is currently being watched to see if he will lead them to the rest of the gang and this the Ghana FBI is sure that there are others involved and experince has taught them its Nigerian men they have open borders and they cant keep them out of Ghana.
Criminals Collect Millions in Romance Scams
In the past, con artists from Nigeria often pretended to be princes in trouble to get your personal information. Now they use more refined scams to rake in millions. They recently released a report on West African cybercrime, which includes Nigeria. That woman drove miles to a rural town to meet a man she had never met, but believed she was in love with.
For more information, read Online Dating Scams or watch this video: guy i meet on words with friends he is from Africa but lives in Indiana but.
Earlier this year, 10 people located around the United States were arrested and charged in an organized money laundering scheme as they were attempting to wash the cash that they illegally obtained. What was strange about the scheme is how the money was obtained in the first place. It wasn’t through the trading or trafficking of illegal goods or drugs, but rather cash that was sent by unsuspecting women who thought they were building relationships with the scammers.
This type of thing happens more often than you might think. These types of schemes are known as romance scams, and while there is no shortage of scams online, few are more devastating. That makes it all the more painful when the rug is pulled out from under them and the scammers make off with their income or savings. Many of these schemes to swindle vulnerable people looking for love originate in Nigeria, where there is a bustling underground economy of scammers who set up profiles on online dating sites and sweet talk unsuspecting victims out of their savings.
Social Catfish , an online dating investigation service, shared an actual playbook provided by a member of a Nigerian dating scam ring and provided insight into how these scammers operate and what to watch out for. According to Social Catfish marketing manager Johnny Santiago explained that most romance scams originate on dating states like Match. Romance scams have originated on other popular apps with communication tools like Words With Friends, for example.
They rarely stay on these platforms for long, though.
Your Identity Could Be Used in Online Dating Scams. Here’s How to Protect Yourself.
Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds. More Videos Online dating scam is ‘one of the largest of its kind’.
This is where the online dr phil dating scams scene confronts into catfish. Somali man designs are full to other horn of Africans, and other times jeopardize it.
James Doubek. The Federal Trade Commission is celebrating Valentine’s Day by reminding people to not get scammed when looking for love. Romance scammers often use online dating sites and create fake profiles or use a real person’s identity, the FTC says. Scammers also cultivate targets on Facebook and social media sites not specifically designed for dating. Once a scammer is able to start an online relationship, requests for money will follow. Common requests are for money to cover travel expenses or a medical procedure.
The number of reported romance scams has been going up — 8, in , 11, in and almost 17, in , the FTC says. People between the ages of 40 and 69 said they lost money at the highest rates among the different age groups.