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  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 8:02 am on July 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bond scam, , , , , , romance scam,   

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam by victim 

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

    A woman in Northern Kentucky is accused of stealing in upwards of $4 million as part of a romance scam and has been arrested for the alleged theft. The thing is that even though she’s accused of stealing this large sum of money, she’s also the victim in this story. She was the one who was reportedly strung along by the scammers. Investigators say that she never kept any of her employer’s money and sent it all to someone she believed to be in a relationship with. This was after she had sent the scammers all of her own money. Now in most instances, you can’t find yourself in a position where you can embezzle large amounts of money like this without having some form of professional background meaning that even educated people can find themselves falling victim to a romance scam.

    In other scam news, residents of Southern California are being warned about a phony bond scam that has been plaguing the area. Some Sheriffs Offices have been receiving complaints about phony government agents calling residents and telling them that their Social Security numbers have been involved in various frauds. To avoid arrest the residents are being told to pay a bond. As can be expected in these type of scams, the residents are told that they can pay the ‘bond’ using gift cards such as Apple, Google Play, or WalMart gift cards. No government agency, whether it is local or federal, will ever ask you to pay any kind of fee using gift cards. If you are to receive one of these phone calls, it is recommended that you hang up immediately and contact your local police.

    Lastly for today, we have a reminder about the phony check scam. If you’re unfamiliar with this scam it’s one of the more prolific scams on the internet. Whether you’re trying to sell something online or applying for a job online, some unscrupulous scammer will send you a check and ask you to deposit the check in your bank account before sending them back the difference. The check is always a fake and once your bank discovers that, you’ll be on the hook for the money while the scammers make off with the funds. One of these phony checks recently targeted an online seller in North Dakota who was quick to notice the discrepancies in the scammer’s story. The texts they were receiving were from a California number while the check was mailed from New York and calls were coming from someone named Larry while the checks came from someone named Donna. If you ever feel like something is off when dealing with online sales and purchases it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , John Martin Hill, romance scam,   

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down! 

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down!

    We’ve talked about romance scams before. Usually, these scams are perpetrated online by overseas scammers who con people into thinking they’re in a long distance relationship before trying to squeeze money out of their victims. However, in some cases, the romance scam can take place in the real world too. Today, we bring you the story of a man accused of committing real-world romance scams in several states for years before finally being apprehended.

    Police in Franklin, Tennessee recently arrested 35-year-old John Martin Hill. Hill was wanted out of Gwinnett County, Georgia for allegedly defrauding a woman out of $80,000 in a romance scam and using the money to buy a BMW. Hill met his latest victim on a dating site where he claimed to be a millionaire. He proposed quickly to the woman and then got the money from her claiming it was for furniture for the new house they were supposed to be moving into. Hill then reportedly took the money and ran. After he was arrested in Tennessee and extradited back to Georgia a judge ordered Hill be held with no bond. That’s probably because Hill had escaped prosecution in several other states where he is said to have committed similar crimes. Hill had his name legally changed five times while avoiding charges in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. There was even a Facebook group dedicated to putting a stop to his actions.

    While this is an extreme case of the romance scam this story serves as a warning for people who might be vulnerable to being taken in by a scammer like Hill. This story also shows what lengths romance scammers may go to in order to cover their own tracks. So if something seems not quite right in the relationship you may have every right to be suspicious. If you feel like you’ve been the victim of a romance scam don’t hesitate to contact your local police.

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

    Even your church can be scammed! 

    Even your church can be scammed!

    Once again, we’re here to bring you the latest in scams that you should look out for.

    This week, we start off with a scam that has affected a number of churches in America. The latest area to be hit with this scam is Fargo, North Dakota where parishioners have been receiving messages claiming to be their local priest. The messages sent through an app designed to inform churchgoers of church news has been hijacked and is asking for donations to be made through gift cards. Any kind of transaction asked to be made through gift cards are usually a scam as the gift cards can be virtually untraceable.

    Our next scam is another romance scam that cast a very wide net. According to the Des Moines Register, someone took out a print ad with their paper claiming to be a 57-year-old man looking for someone to marry. However, the same as has appeared in several other newspapers across the country. As with most romance scams, this ad was more than likely placed with the hope of trying to con money out of a vulnerable victim. The Register pulled the ad after they investigated the source of the ad.

    Lastly, in North Carolina, the State Attorney General is warning people there not to fall for phony DMV sites. He says that there are websites popping up that mimic the DMV’s official website. These sites could either be offering services for a fee that the DMV does for free or they could be trying to steal your personal information. You should always use your state’s official DMV website which usually has a ‘.gov’ address.

     
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