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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Match.com, romance scam,   

    Dating site sued over romance scams 

    Dating site sued over romance scams

    We’ve talked about romance scams a lot lately. We’ve mostly discussed how to recognize a romance scam and how just about anyone can find themselves as a victim in one. We’ve even touched on the legal ramifications romance scams could have for both perpetrators and victims. What we haven’t talked about is what the law is doing to try and prevent these scams outside of arresting a handful of scammers. Now, the Federal Trade Commission seems to be getting serious about them by going after one of the major platforms where romance scammers find their victims.

    Dating sites are one of the biggest online services where romance scammers troll for their victims. One of the biggest dating platforms online is Match.com. The FTC is suing Match over alleged dubious business practices that have allowed romance scams to flourish on Match. The FTC says that Match is aware that close to a quarter of all Match profiles may be fraudulent with many of them allegedly being used to run romance scams. The FTC claims that not only did Match know these profiles were fraudulent but left the profiles on their platform to attract other users to their service. Match is a paid subscription service and you can’t communicate with other members without signing up for a subscription.

    Of course, Match has denied the allegations. They had a chance to settle with the FTC a while ago for $30 million and a chance to clean up their act but Match rejected the offer. The problem with dating sites and apps whether they’re free or paid is that they’re filled with fake profiles. Whether it’s to attract new users or the users are actively trying to catfish the new members, online dating services are rife with con artists and frauds. Loneliness can be a heavy cross to bear and it can impair your judgment when it comes to accepting a new romantic interest into your life. While the heart wants what it wants, you should also listen to your gut. Once again, the FTC has a website about how to recognize a potential romance scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cleveland, , nurses, romance scam,   

    Nurses being targeted in romance scam 

    Nurses being targeted by romance scam

    Since we’ve been discussing the online romance scam lately, we hadn’t thought that romance scams are targeting particular occupations, until now. According to The Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio, they’ve received inquiries from two people in the same occupation that have received the same letter. The two people live in different parts of the country as one lives in Cleveland and the other in Denver. Both correspondents are hospital nurses who have received not only the exact same email but they were written someone claiming to be the exact same person. Thankfully, both nurses were skeptical of the emails and did not respond but shared their stories with the Plain Dealer.

    The letters start off claiming that the man sending the emails had a wife who passed away who was treated by the nurses. The emailer states that he hasn’t stopped thinking about the nurses since his wife has passed and would like to get in touch with them. What caught the nurses’ attention was the fact that the emailer would be vague about what facility he met the nurses in and the medical information he gave about his supposed wife indicated that she could not have been treated by the nurses. For example, one of the nurses works in neonatal care where she could not have possibly treated the man’s wife. Both letters are postmarked from Baltimore and are said to have come from a man by the name of Allen Knox.

    When it comes to scams, if it’s happening in one or two parts of the country it’s more than likely that it’s happening in other parts of the country too. The way these scammers find their targets is through social media where apparently, they are now looking for certain occupations. Be extra careful as to what you share on social media as some scammers can use this information to craft a ploy to appear as they know you personally and you’ve just forgotten who they are. It’s also recommended that if you receive one of these letters that you should change your passwords on all your online accounts and we would recommend using a password manager like LastPass to make your passwords more secure. We also recommend making sure that all your accounts are secured by two-factor authentication which you should be doing anyway. Lastly, you may want to also invest in a locking mailbox to prevent scammers from going through your mail.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kingsley Otuya, romance scam, ,   

    Romance scam had tragic consequences 

    Romance scam had tragic consequences

    Readers seem to like our stories about romance scammers who get arrested. Who can blame them? They’re usually stories about justice being brought against those who perpetrate one of the cruelest cons in today’s society. These stories can also serve as a warning to others to be wary of such scams to protect not only their wallet but also their well-being. Sadly, not all the stories about scammers being caught have happy endings. We’re not trying to be sensationalistic by bringing you this story. Our hope is to inform consumers of the disastrous effects this scam can have.

    earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas announced the sentencing of 34-year-old Kingsley Otuya of Austin, Texas, for being part of a romance scam ring. Otuya was sentenced to 11 years in prison for being a ‘catcher’ in the romance scam ring. A catcher is someone who quickly withdraws money from a bank account before the bank can catch on that the account is being used for a scam. This particular scam ring was said to have taken over $1 million from their victims. Tragically, one victim was so devastated about being taken advantage of in a romance scam that they took their own life.

    Again, we can’t stress this enough that no one is immune from these romance scams. Victims have come from all socioeconomic and education standards and have crossed all racial divides. Too many of the victims have been left almost destitute in the wake of these scammers. If you think you may be the victim in a romance scam there’s no shame in coming forward to authorities. You’re probably not the only victim and your assistance could be crucial in helping apprehend the suspects. Also, if you think there’s no way out of your situation and are contemplating the unthinkable there’s also no shame in reaching out for help there too. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255 or their website.

     
  • Geebo 9:33 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baaki Abdul Majeed, Kahad A. Wuupin, , , romance scam, , Thomas D. Inkoom   

    Victim taken for +$750K in gold and jewels scam 

    Victim taken for +$750K in gold and jewels scam

    Three men from across the country have been indicted on federal charges of mail fraud for allegedly fleecing an unidentified Kentucky woman out of $757,000 in a military romance scam. Baaki Abdul Majeed, Kahad A. Wuupin, and Thomas D. Inkoom are accused of posing as a United States service member and engaging in an online relationship with the victim through social media. Much like the phony gold bar scam we’ve discussed before, the three men posed as a GI who was trying to get a fortune out of the country where they were supposedly stationed. This time it was $10 million of gold and jewels out of the West African nation of Ghana. While two of the scammers live in Washington and the third in New Jersey, they all have ties to Ghana.

    The suspects are said to have requested several checks from the victim over a four-month period with the largest being for $95,000. The scammers instructed the victim to put items like cars and real estate in the memo lines of the checks in order to throw the bank off from detecting a possible scam. Some checks were even sent from different bank accounts. While not mentioned in reports, we’re pretty sure this was also done to keep any bank from running across the scam. All three suspects are said to be facing 20-year maximum sentences.

    Again, we have to stress that romance scams like this can happen to anyone no matter how savvy or intelligent the victim might be. Millions of dollars are lost to romance scammers every year in the United States and have claimed victims from all socioeconomic classes. 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 give money to a scammer once, they’ll keep coming back for more and will try to prey on your emotions to get it. As always, 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 September 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cincinnati, fitness trainer, romance scam,   

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam 

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam

    A woman from Cincinnati recently came forward to the media after falling victim to an online romance scam. This is significant as many victims are too embarrassed to report the scam to police let alone the press. She met the scammer on Instagram where they posed as a sort of fitness trainer to the stars. The scammer claimed that he trained many contestants on a popular reality show. They would include pictures of the trainer working out with many of the show’s cast members. The scammer messaged the woman saying he wanted to get to know her better.

    He invited the woman to his fitness studio in New York but first, he had to travel to Africa on business. It was while the supposed trainer was in Africa when the money requests started. First, the scammer requested money for a plane ticket after he got stranded in Africa. The woman wired the money to him. After receiving the first money transfer, the scammer went back to the well asking for more money claiming that he had to pay back taxes to the local African government or they wouldn’t let him go. The woman wired the additional funds to Africa to the awaiting scammer.

    This scammer was clever enough to the point where he instructed his victim to visit different wire service locations so clerks couldn’t recognize the woman as a repeat customer and warn her of the scam. A friend of the woman felt something was up and told the victim to try to contact the scammer on FaceTime. The scammer replied that he couldn’t communicate with her over FaceTime, Skype, or even through a regular phone call. It was at this point that the scammer stopped responding to the victim but not before she was out of $2,076.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are they’re trying to scam you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams, as does the FBI. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam, Rubbin Sarpong,   

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions 

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions

    A 30-year-old man from New Jersey was recently arrested for allegedly swindling over $2 million from victims in a romance scam. Romance scams are designed to prey upon the lonely and take advantage of their vulnerable state. It’s not unheard of for victims to have given anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars to romance scammers. The scammers typically tend to pose as military personnel who are stationed overseas as was the case of Rubbin Sarpong of Millville, New Jersey. Sarpong is accused of scamming millions of dollars from a total of 30 victims.

    Sarpong reportedly posed as a member of the military stationed in Syria on multiple dating and social media sites. After he had his victims believing in the fictitious romance, Sarpong would ask for money to ship gold bars from Syria to the United States. In reality, there were no gold bars and Sarpong kept the money for himself. At least one victim wired $28,000 to Sarpong. While Sarpong was able to maintain this scam for three years it didn’t stop him from bragging on social media about how much money he made. He would often post pictures online of himself with large stacks of cash. At his court appearance after his arrest, Sarpong even tried telling the judge that he couldn’t afford an attorney. The judge denied his request for a public defender. If convicted, Sarpong is looking at 20 years in federal prison.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are likely that they’re trying to con you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam, ,   

    Six million dollar romance scam ring busted! 

    Romance scam ring busted!

    When we discuss scams like wire fraud or romance scams, the perpetrators largely operate with impunity since they’re overseas. This makes it difficult for US investigators to apprehend the suspects. Even if the US has an extradition treaty with the scammers’ home country that doesn’t necessarily mean that the scammers will be extradited to the US no matter how much money they’re accused of taking. However, that doesn’t mean that federal investigators are totally powerless in bringing some of these crooks to justice.

    Yesterday, The FBI unsealed an indictment from October of 2018, against 80 alleged international scammers. Between corporate fraud and romance scams, the ring is suspected of raking in at least $6 million from their victims. On the corporate side of things, the scammers would allegedly send fake but realistic-looking emails to the financial departments of companies requesting that funds be sent to certain bank accounts. With the romance scams, they reportedly posted fake accounts on dating sites and apps while conning their unsuspecting victims out of money disguised as gifts. The FBI says that this particular scamming ring tried to steal $40 million from potential victims. As we have discussed previously, sometimes the victims of these scams themselves can end up in legal trouble because of it.

    In this instance, federal investigators have arrested 14 alleged scammers who were living in the US who are accused of sending the money they stole back to their home country of Nigeria. The West African country is notorious as a haven for scammers because it’s more lucrative to become a scammer rather than holding a legitimate job. This is also where the ‘419’ scam originated named for the Nigerian legal code that makes these scams illegal. Unfortunately, while some of the scammers in this particular ring have been apprehended, there are many more who at large overseas.

    To better protect yourself against these scams if you work in a company where you receive these types of financial requests, always double-check with the person making the request through a phone call or face to face meeting. As far as romance scams go, no matter how good looking they may appear, if they start asking for money the odds are likely that you’re being scammed. And we’re not talking about a couple bucks here and there either. Some victims of romance scams have lost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be a victim of a romance scam please have them read this post or the FTC website.

     
  • Geebo 8:12 am on August 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam   

    Even the FBI is warning of romance scams 

    Even the FBI is warning of romance scams

    The FBI just recently issued an alert concerning romance scams. They warn that dating sites are the most used platform for committing these scams and can often lead to the victim unwittingly laundering money for the scammer. The FBI also states that in 2018, more than 18,000 people claimed to be a victim of romance scams that ended up costing the victims in upwards of $362 million. Both of those statistics are an increase of 70% over 2017. That’s not even taking into account the number of scams that went unreported due to the victims being too embarrassed to come forward.

    As is usually the case in romance scams, the scammers will pretend to be an American working or living overseas. The scammer will then ask the victim for money either for a purported trip to the states or for some fictitious trouble that the scammer claims to be in. Often the victim is asked to wire the money overseas which as we know by now is almost a guarantee than the money and the scammer will never be seen again. Some scammers will even take the money claiming it’s for plane tickets then ask for more money claiming that they’ve been arrested during their trip.

    The worst-case scenario according to the FBI is when victims become what they call money mules. This is when the scammers convince the victims to open several bank accounts or in some cases even establish an LLC in order to send and receive funds on behalf of the scammer. This is all part of a money laundering scam which in some instances can see the victim getting in trouble with the law.

    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.

     
  • Geebo 8:05 am on August 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adam Kinzinger, , romance scam   

    Romance scam even hits Congress 

    Romance scam even hits Congress

    Previously, we’ve posted about how online romance scams have affected people from all walks of life. From an older gentleman who refused to believe the warnings of his family to a woman who stole millions of dollars from her employer in order to pay someone she thought she was in a relationship with. With many of these scams, the scammers tend to pose as military personnel in order to give the illusion that they’re serving overseas. Now news has come out that the scam has even reached the halls of Congress.

    Representative Adam Kinzinger from Illinois has been the victim of many romance scams but not in the way you might think. Representative Kinzinger is also a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. This means that his likeness has been used multiple times in a number of romance scams. Rep. Kinzinger has said that he has had victims of the scams that have used his pictures visit him in the US Capitol looking for some form of justice. This has caused Rep. Kinzinger to call on social media outlets to do a better job in weeding out these scammers. Seeing the number of victims affected by military romance scams has even prompted Rep. Kinzinger to start to draft legislation that would compel social media platforms to do more to try to prevent these scams.

    Rep. Kinzinger has had his likeness used in these scams since 2008 after he was stationed in Iraq as an Air Force pilot. Reportedly, victims of the scams have lost thousands of dollars to scammers using Kinzinger’s images. Kinzinger’s staff even pour through social media looking for phony accounts that bear Kinzinger’s likeness showing just how far these scammers are willing to go to fleece their victims out of their money. Sadly, even when Kinzinger’s office reports these scammers to the various social media platforms, the scammers just open new accounts and continue the cycle.

     
  • Geebo 8:30 am on July 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Equifax, , , romance scam,   

    Just how bad are military romance scams? 

    Just how bad are military romance scams?

    In a military romance scam, the scammer poses as a member of the US military and target potential victims. Like in most other romance scams, they’ll have the victim believing they’re in some type of relationship before asking for money. These scammers are largely from Nigeria where many of the scammers claim that these scams pay more than honest work. It’s become such a problem that the Department of Defense has employees that constantly scan social media for phony military accounts and report them to the platform in question. The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command receives numerous complaints about these scams but since the scams actually involve civilians it’s out of their jurisdiction.

    If you’ve been following the news lately you may be aware of the settlement that credit reporting company Equifax has been ordered to give because of a massive data breach that happened in 2017. The Federal Trade Commission has ordered Equifax to pay $425 million to consumers affected by the breach. his has meant that you may be able to claim $125 from the settlement. Of course, where there’s a payout there’s likely to be a scam. Fake websites are popping up claiming to be the official Equifax settlement website. The goal of these phony websites is to either to get you to give up your personal information or pay for a settlement that will never come. The official FTC settlement site can be found at https://www.ftc.gov/Equifax.

    Speaking of payments, a number of news outlets are reporting about a bank scam that’s affecting consumers. In this scam, you’ll receive a text message warning you that there’s been fraudulent activity on your bank account. You’ll then receive a phone call that appears to be from your bank with someone asking you to input your PIN. Once you do this the scammers will have control of your bank account. It’s easy for just about anyone to spoof a phone number to make it look like it’s coming from your bank. If you receive one of these calls the best thing to do is hang up and call the bank at the official number listed on the back of your credit or debit card.

     
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