Don't Lose Your Heart & Your $$$ to Scammers
They met online. He said he was a friend of a friend. The woman, in her 50s and struggling in her marriage, was happy to find someone to chat with. “He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. “He was interested in me. He was interested in getting to know me better. He was very positive, and I felt like there was a real connection there.”
That connection would end up costing the woman $2 million and an untold amount of heartache after the man she fell in love with, whom she never met in person, took her for every cent she had.
It’s called a ROMANCE SCAM, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise. Victims, predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. But they are also emotionally vulnerable. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.
Trolling for victims online makes this type of crime easier than ever before. The criminals work as a group and act as a person, pretending to be anybody you want them to be. They can be anywhere in the world and victimize people. The criminals will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target. Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop.
The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do. They spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.
Remember, for them, a romance scam is a criminal enterprise. They will always return to a victim because in their world, once a victim becomes a victim, they stay a victim, because they send money. Victims will often be placed on what’s called a “sucker list.” Their names and identities are shared with other criminals, and they may be targeted in the future, even with the same scam.
DON’T BECOME A VICTIM
To stay safe online, be careful what you post because scammers can use that information against you. Always use reputable websites, but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:
• Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
• Go slow and ask lots of questions.
• Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
• Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
• Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
• Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. If you don’t know them, don’t send money. You will see what their true intentions are after that.
If you fall prey to a Romance Scam, please report it with the FBI at: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/
Press Release Provided By the Riverside Police Department