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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: romance scam, ,   

    Unemployment scammers are using romance scams to move money 

    Unemployment scammers are using romance scams to move money

    In case anyone was wondering how successful the unemployment scams were working against the states, scammers are using additional scams to be able to move the stolen. Specifically, scammers are employing romance scams to launder the ill-gotten unemployment funds.

    For the past few months, overseas scam rings have been applying for unemployment benefits using identities stolen in previous data breaches. It doesn’t matter if the person belonging to the identity being used is currently employed or not. Scammers are applying for benefits in en masse in hopes of getting lucky with just a handful of identities as each identity could bring them thousands of dollars.

    The problem is moving the money from an unemployment debit card or unemployment check to the scammers overseas. At least one group of scammers is using another scam tactic to get unwitting people to move the money for them and that’s the romance scam.

    A man in the state of Washington had recently fallen for just such a scam. He thought that he was involved romantically with someone in the country, at least online. The scammer started telling the man that they needed to deposit some money from an inheritance but their bank only allowed so much money to be deposited per day. He allowed the scammer to use his bank account where they are said to have moved thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits to a third party. His bank eventually noticed the unusual activity and returned some of the money back to the states.

    Thankfully, this man isn’t facing any charges as the FBI has said this man was thoroughly duped. They even thanked him for coming forward as many scam victims never come forward. Sometimes victims are threatened by the scammers that they’ll be arrested if they come forward. Others never come forward out of embarrassment.

    If you meet someone online and they start asking you for or about money before you’ve met in person, there’s a good likelihood they’re part of a romance scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , romance scam, ,   

    COVID creating more scams for more money 

    COVID creating more scams for more money

    According to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, not only have scams increased during the pandemic but victims are losing more money than ever. Just last month, the Attorney General’s Office said that scam victims lost as much as 8000 times more than they did the year before. The rise in scams is being contributed to the fact that more people are at home and online during the pandemic. That can also lead to more victims posting about themselves on social media which gives scammers more information to use against you.

    The Attorney General’s Office says the three most common scams that have been happening during the pandemic are grandparent scams, work from home scams, and romance scams. Kentucky recently prosecuted a man who scammed a woman for over $200,000 in a romance scam. The scammer posed as a man in the military while asking his victims for money under the guise of a romantic relationship.

    We often see people acting incredulously saying things like “Who would ever fall for a scam like this.” Unfortunately, victims falling for scams happen more often than you might think with only a fraction of the victims ever coming forward. As we have said before, people from all economic and educational backgrounds have fallen for scammers in one way or another.

    When it comes to your money, always take the time to verify what someone online is telling you. Whether it’s for a job, a relative in jail, or a romantic interest, it never hurts to check everyone’s story. At the worst, it may result in some hurt feelings but at least you’ll still have your money in these tough economic times.

    If you find yourself having become a victim of one of these scammers, please think about coming forward to the authorities. While it may seem embarrassing at first, if more people come forward it will lessen the chance that someone else will become a victim in the future.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam,   

    Victim held hostage in romance scam 

    Victim held hostage in romance scam

    When we’ve discussed romance scams in the past, we always mention the potential financial and emotional toll it can take on its victims. What we haven’t mentioned is the physical toll when it comes to the safety of romance scam victims.

    If you’re unfamiliar with what a romance scam is, it’s when a scammer poses online as someone their not and luring victims in with the prospect of a romantic relationship. When the scammer has fully fooled their victim into believing they’re in an authentic relationship, the scammer will start asking their victim for money. Previous romance scams have seen victims lose anywhere from thousands of dollars to literally over a million dollars.

    Red flags that could indicate a romance scam is if the person keeps giving excuses as to why they can’t meet you in person. Another red flag can be if the person claims to be working or stationed overseas. Romance scammers often pose as American military members and steal the photos of active military personnel.

    Recently, an American woman who was caught up in a romance scam was rescued from her captors who had allegedly perpetrated a romance scam on her. The woman was lured to Nigeria with the promise of marriage. She actually married the man who was scamming her. After the marriage, the scammer was said to have taken control of all her financial accounts including her retirement account. The victim was held captive by her scammer for 16 months in a hotel room. This type of captivity is not unheard of as authorities rescued a woman from the Philippines who had been held in Nigeria for six months.

    Again, we can’t stress this enough that anybody from any cultural, financial, or educational background can be a victim of a romance scam. We’ve seen people from widows/widowers to corporate CEOs who have been taken in romance scams. Now, with the added danger of being held captive being thrown into the mix, you should be more cautious than ever when it comes to making relationships online.

    If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a romance scam, the Federal Trade Commission has a great website on how to recognize a romance scam. Don’t let your heart trick you into making dangerous decisions.

     
  • Geebo 8:02 am on June 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam,   

    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam 

    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam

    A married couple from New Jersey are accused of conning 33 people out of $6 million collectively in a series of romance scams. That averages out to close to $200,000 per victim. The couple are said to have made $3 million for themselves while the rest went to an overseas romance scam ring that operated out of Nigeria and Turkey. The couple allegedly ran the scam for almost 4 years before being apprehended by authorities.

    Like most romance scams, the pair were said to have approached their victims through social media or dating websites. Once their victims were fooled enough into believing that they were in an actual romantic relationship, the scammers would then request money from their victims. The requests would often be disguised as emergency medical expenses or for business purposes.

    One particular victim found themselves in trouble with the law after she embezzled money from the company she worked for. Prior to that she had given the scammers her entire life savings, maxed out her credit cards, and even took out a loan to give money to someone she thought she was in a romantic relationship with. That victim is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to embezzlement.

    This not only shows that just about anyone can be taken for a ride in a romance scam but also shows how expensive and devastating it can be for the victims.

    If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that you haven’t met face to face yet, you should be very suspicious if they start asking for money. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website about romance scams and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam,   

    The other victims of romance scams 

    The other victims of romance scams

    When we’ve discussed romance scams in the past, we usually focus on the victims who have lost money. However, there are other victims of the scam that we may not have considered.

    If you’re unfamiliar with romance scams, they also go by the name catfishing. A scammer will set up a phony social media or dating profile. They’ll then approach a victim online like they’re seeking a romantic relationship. They might string the victim along for weeks or months. They’ll often give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person, usually business-related but not always. Eventually, they’ll approach their victim for money. A lot of the time the scammers will claim they’re stuck in some remote location and need the money to get home. Other times they’ll say it’s for a business venture that could make the victim rich. Sometime they’ll even flat out ask for gifts.

    This scam is prevalent among the military. Not as financial victims, but as the ones having their pictures stolen to be used on the scammers’ fake accounts. Scammers prefer using the pictures of military members as it gives them a built-in excuse as to why they may be overseas or unable to meet in person. Sadly, these military members are victims too as they often find themselves being sought out by the financial victims of the scam.

    For example, a Naval Petty Officer stationed in Virginia says that he receives several messages a day from victims of a romance scam that used his picture. Too often the victims believe that the person in the picture is the actual scammer. He says that he even had victims go after his girlfriend online. In some cases, he says, victims will even physically track down the military member used in the picture.

    We’re sure we don’t have to instruct military members on how to conduct themselves on social media because they’re probably given guidelines for that all the time. However, if you want to protect yourself or someone you know from one of these scams, one of the best things you can do is a reverse image search. This will allow you to see if the picture being sent is one being used somewhere else online under a different name.

     
  • Geebo 7:19 am on April 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Nextdoor, romance scam,   

    Romance scams are not just for dating sites 

    Romance scams are not just for dating sites

    With everyone social distancing more people are turning to online methods of communication to stay in touch with each other. Some are even going online to make new friends that could assist them during the current crisis. Once again, the scammers are there looking to take advantage of people’s emotions during this trying time. They’re also using new avenues to achieve this.

    When we talk about romance scams, they usually start on dating sites or social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It seems that some romance scammers are taking to unconventional platforms to find victims. For example, the New York Times is reporting about an attempted romance scam that started on Nextdoor.com. If you’re unfamiliar with Nextdoor, it’s a platform that helps people stay informed with what’s going on in their own neighborhood. Local residents can post questions or concerns about what’s happening in their neck of the woods. In many cases, cities also use Nextdoor to get important news out to citizens.

    In at least one woman’s case, a scammer used Nextdoor to try to ensnare his victim in a romance scam. The scammer told the woman that he lived on a specific street in her neighborhood and started pouring on the charm. It wasn’t too long that the scammer asked if they could communicate outside of Nextdoor. Soon after, the scammer started making excuses for why he couldn’t meet the woman in person. Then the pitch finally came.

    At first, the scammer started small asking the woman for a $100 Netflix gift card. The scammer claimed that he was on assignment in Europe. Then the scam ramped up rather quickly with the scammer asking for $2600 for tools that he had supposedly lost for his job. It was at this point that the woman realized she was being scammed and blocked the scammer. She was only out $100 but others have not been so lucky usually losing thousands of dollars.

    Anybody can pretend to be somebody else online. In most romance scams, the picture the scammers use will have been taken from someone else. If you suspect a scammer, try doing a reverse image search to see if the picture is being used elsewhere. If someone claims to be working overseas, they probably live there. And if they ask for money without meeting then it’s definitely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam,   

    Man taken in inheritance romance scam for $43,000 

    Man taken in inheritance romance scam for $43,000

    A man in Northern Virginia recently reported to local police that he was fleeced out of $43,000 in a romance scam. In this particular scam, the scammers posed as a Russian woman on a dating site. While the scammers communicated with the man over text and email, they went the extra mile by communicating with the man by phone. That’s almost unheard of in romance scams as in most cases the scammers don’t want to leave any potentially identifying information. Like in almost all romance scams, there came an event that supposedly required a large sum of money.

    In this instance, the scammer said that they had received an inheritance of ‘family valuables’. However, in order to get the inheritance, they would need money for transfer fees. The victim is even said to have received a ‘certificate of ownership for an inheritance.’ As reprehensible as these scammers are, they really pulled out all the stops for this particular scam. In total, the man wired $43,000 to the scammers before he came to realization that he was being scammed. Unfortunately, this type of romance scam is not unheard of. Along with the romantic interest the victim thinks they’re getting, the scammers will sometimes throw in an element of a get rich quick scheme. We’ve seen this before where victims were offered gold or jewels if they just send their phony paramours a large sum of money to get the supposed riches out of their country. Of course, these treasures don’t actually exist.

    As we usually say at the end of romance scam stories, this can happen to just about anyone. Victims from all age groups, socioeconomic statuses, and education levels have fallen for romance scams. From CEOs to entry-level employees, the romance scam does not discriminate against any of its victims. If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that you haven’t met face to face yet, you should be very suspicious if they start asking for money. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website about romance scams and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , catfishing, Phoenix, romance scam,   

    Romance scam could leave victim homeless 

    Romance scam could leave victim homeless

    As we have discussed previously, romance scams are no joke. While some victims have been taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars, other victims have ended up in jail after stealing money to give to their fictional flames. For those of you who may be joining us for the first time, a romance scam is when a con artist uses social media or dating apps to lull their victims into a phony online relationship. When the victim appears to be smitten, the con artists will ask the victim for money under the guise of some kind of emergency or favor. Once the money stops, the con artists will cut off all communication with the victim.

    Something equally as disastrous recently happened in the Phoenix Metro area. Police there were called to a local Walmart when a worker noticed a woman had been there for more than a day. When police got there, there discovered the woman had been the victim of just such a scam. In her case, the scammer got her to give up her life in another state and fly to Arizona thinking that her new online love would be there to meet her. When she messaged who she thought was her boyfriend asking why he wasn’t at the airport to pick her up, the scammer once again asked her for more money in the form of gift cards. Once the scammer received the money they cut off communication leaving the woman stranded in Arizona with no place to turn to.

    Thankfully, the story has somewhat of a happy ending as one of the police officers bought the victim a plane ticket back to her home state out of his own pocket. However, the victim said she stopped paying rent where she lived thinking she was starting a new life. Unfortunately, this is just one story in a long line of romance scam victims who have been left destitute by the scam. These victims range in age, education and economic status. Just about anyone can be a victim.

    If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a romance scam, the Federal Trade Commission has a great website on how to recognize a romance scam. Don’t let your heart trick you into making dangerous decisions.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: romance scam, , valentine's day   

    Romance scams in time for Valentine’s Day 

    Romance scams in time for Valentine's Day

    With Valentine’s Day approaching a number of us are getting our plans in order for the romantic holiday. Whether it’s the old standbys of flowers, dinner, and chocolates or something as simple as a movie, many people will be shelling out big bucks to try to celebrate their significant other or impress a new prospective partner. That kind of spending is fine if you’re into the Valentine’s Day celebrations. However, there is another kind of romantic spending no one should do no matter what time of year it is and that’s falling victim to the romance scam.

    The romance scam can affect anyone no matter what their social status, education level, or age group is. It usually starts out on dating sites and apps or social media. The scammer will try to strike up a relationship with a victim almost out of the blue but they’ll never meet the victim in real life. They may give some excuse like they’re working in a remote area or they’re living overseas. Eventually, the scammers will ask their victims for money under the guise of some emergency or money they need to travel. If a victim ends up paying this money, the scammer will continue to ask for money but will still give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person.

    The FBI has a list of tips on how to avoid romance scams. These include researching the photos that someone uses in their profile, not allowing the other person to try to isolate you from your family, and never give out your banking or other financial information. If you were to become a victim of one of these scams, the FBI recommends either filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or your local FBI field office.

    While the feeling of being alone on Valentine’s isn’t the best, it’s not worth ignoring the red flags that could lead to financial ruin.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam,   

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays 

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays

    For many people, being alone during the holidays can be a painful experience. So, in their search for companionship, they may turn to dating apps or social media to try to find someone to share the holidays with. Romance scammers are counting on this as with many scams the holiday season is their most lucrative time of the year. With many people being in such a vulnerable emotional state, people from all sorts of educational and economic backgrounds can be potential victims of the scam. Not only could it leave them with a broken heart but potentially an empty bank account and possibly jail time.

    Just in case you’re not familiar with romance scams, it’s where someone meets someone else online but never in real life. The new person in their life will start asking the victim for large amounts of money while professing their undying love for the victim. In too many instances, the victim is broke before they realize they’ve been scammed. Even worse, some victims continue to pay their scammers even though all evidence points to them being scammed. Some victims of the scam have paid their scammers hundreds of thousands of dollars while some others have embezzled from their employers to keep the money going to who they perceive as their online significant other.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of these scams this holiday season. If you meet someone online and they claim to be interested in you, do a thorough web search to make sure they are who they claim to be. Use the picture they send you to do a reverse image search to make sure they haven’t been using in other scams. If their social media or dating profiles have missing information, that can be another red flag that they’re a scammer. Most importantly, if they ask for money while simultaneously giving you excuses as to why you can’t meet, that’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    While the feeling of being wanted is always nice, it’s not worth ignoring the red flags that could lead to crippling financial damages.

     
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