The creators of this site feel that we have to warn you against internet romance scammers who come up to you with different presentations. Let us introduce you to some of them.
A Syrian doctor, a Marine on a peacekeeping mission in Iraq, is widowed and an oil rig worker. All the charming gentlemen with broken hearts are searching online for a lady who will understand them. This could be the beginning of a great love story, but it’s anything but this. The lonely women who have become entangled with charming online strangers have been left without tens of thousands after a year of ‘relationship’—some without even over a hundred thousand euros.
“We talked all month long and made plans to escape Iraq. Everything was so realistic: the talks, the events, the Internet outages coincided with the bombing in Iraq, the time delay, and the phone numbers were Iraqi. They thought of everything. ‘[Victim’s confession]
Criminals often search for their victims on social networks and send them friend requests via Facebook or Instagram.
They portray themselves as a US soldier on a peacekeeping mission somewhere in Africa or Iraq, an oil rig worker, or a Syrian doctor, in each case separated or widowed, with a young child and isolated. They reveal their (usually tragic) life story and share photos, all intending to establish an intimate relationship with the victim. When this relationship is established (sometimes it takes months), they turn to the victim by asking them to send them money. The excuses are different: they need money to treat a baby, to travel home, or to visit. In some cases, they have access to more money, but first, they need some money from the victim to arrange all the bureaucracy, etc.
If the victims are satisfied and the money is sent, the story does not end there, as they expect more and more money while at the same time establishing a stronger emotional bond with the victim, which makes it very difficult for them to resist.
Money Transferred Is Lost Forever
Victims prefer to demand payment through Western Union or MoneyGram payment systems, which are designed to transfer money quickly. Sometimes there are also transfers to bank accounts abroad, which, as a rule, belong to the so-called money mules. They withdraw this money immediately after receiving it and send it forward a second time. In any case, the trail of money is quickly lost.
It Is Impossible to Track Down the Internet Romance Scammers
Photos of themselves posing on Facebook have been stolen somewhere online or on discarded discs; even the first and last names are fictitious. Accurate information about users is not released or provided by Facebook only in exceptional cases (child pornography, missing person search, drug trafficking, weapons…) exclusively to law enforcement agencies. At the same time, in these cases, it turned out that these frauds came from the sub-Saharan countries of West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire …), where our police have no influence, and their law enforcement agencies tolerate such actions.
To better understand romance scams, we recommend watching this documentary that tries to shed light on the “other side” of fraudsters from sub-Saharan Africa.
It Can Happen to Anyone
It is a misconception that such fraud is possible only to older and uneducated users. Victims who reported fraud, though predominantly female, are users of a wide range of educational backgrounds and ages who trusted the fraudster solely through beautiful photography. Although the victims of romantic fraud are women, in this case, men are also no more immune.
Fraudsters should not be underestimated: they are good connoisseurs of the human psyche and exceptional manipulators who know very well which button to press at a certain point to take even more money from the victim.
Our Advice to Victims
If you have identified yourself in the description above, you are advised to immediately and completely block all communication with fraudsters. Block them on Facebook and Skype. Don’t answer their calls and emails. In short, from their point of view, make it look like you no longer exist. If you have already deposited the money, report the matter to the local police station as soon as possible.
You should be aware that the only goal of criminals is to get more money from you, so interrupting your communication will not be easy, especially if you are already emotionally involved. They will try to contact you in all kinds of ways. They will try to blow your soul and convince you that your relatives and acquaintances have conspired against them. In doing so, they will use against you all the information they have about you and all other possible means. They may even threaten to kill you “as they have acquaintances in the military everywhere.” All with the intention of intimidation and psychological pressure on the victim to give up and send the money to the victim. In no case do you dwell on their stories; even if you sent the money, the blackmail would not end; they would just put more pressure on you. That is why it is really important to cut off all communication with them. If you give in to the pressure after a few days and answer them, you will just let them know that they still have you in the grip.
3 Signs That Will Betray the Internet Romance Scammers
- If the sound does not work when talking via Skype, and you cannot talk to the other party, you should try to get a confirmation that the person, on the other hand, is real. Suggest that he write your name on the sheet and point it to the camera. If it is a fraud, they will quickly interrupt the recording with the excuse that they have a connection problem, and you will at least know where you are.
- Find a photo of the harasser online. First, save a copy of their photos and then search for them on Google. Check the search results: Are the same photos already appearing in other frauds, or is there another person in the photo, not your interlocutor?
- Think about it: Do you ever feel like talking to multiple people? Are their stories full of holes and mismatches? In many developing countries, such fraud constitutes an important part of earnings and can take the form of organized crime. The victim does not talk to the same person all the time, and the more difficult the romance gets, the more difficult it is to maintain a level of consistency.