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  • 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: inheritance, 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.

     
  • 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.

     
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