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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam,   

    A record year for romance scams 

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

    By Greg Collier

    The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report that said that Americans lost a total of around $304 million to romance scams in 2020. That’s a 50% increase since 2019. For the third year in a row, romance scams were listed as the number one scam that was reported to the FTC. The actual amount of money lost is probably even higher since many victims are too embarrassed to ever come forward. The pandemic was cited as the main reason why there was such a spike in romance scam activity. Seniors over 70 lost a median amount of close to $10,000 each while people in their 20s saw the biggest increase in d=falling for these scams.

    However, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. While most of our readers already know what a romance scam is, it doesn’t hurt to explain it to new readers. A romance scam is when a victim meets someone online who isn’t who they say they are. The scammers will often use the photo of someone they found online, often a member of the military but not always. The scammer will lead the victim to believe that they are in some kind of romantic relationship, but the scammer will keep making excuses as to why they can’t meet in public. Usually, the scammer will say they’re either deployed overseas or they’re working out of the country. Before too long, the scammer will start asking the victim for money. In some cases the money will be or gifts, or the scammer will claim they need the money for some kind of emergency. The scammers will keep asking for money until the victim realizes they’re being scammed. The scam has been known to find victims in both men and women.

    In a lot of romance scams, it’s often hard for the victim to believe they’re being scammed. There have been cases where the victim got into legal trouble after stealing money to send to their fictitious romantic partner. As a friend or family member, it may be up to you to do the detective work for them. Do a reverse image search of the photo being used by the scammer. You’ll often find that the picture was stolen from someone with a completely different identity. Also do a search for the job the scammer is claiming to have and include the word ‘scammer’ in the search.

    If you feel like someone you know might be the victim of a romance scam, please let them know before it’s too late.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , money mule, romance scam, ,   

    FBI warns about Valentine romance scams 

    FBI warns about Valentine romance scams

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, some are engaged in a mad rush to find a companion for the romantic holiday. Some will take to dating sites, apps, or social media in order to find a special someone to spend February 14th with, even if it’s a virtual meeting due to current social distancing guidelines. However, this is when romance scams are at their worst.

    A romance scam is when a victim meets someone online who isn’t who they say they are. The scammers will often use the photo of someone they found online, often a member of the military but not always. The scammer will lead the victim to believe that they are in some kind of romantic relationship, but the scammer will keep making excuses as to why they can’t meet in public. Usually, the scammer will say they’re either deployed overseas or they’re working out of the country. Before too long, the scammer will start asking the victim for money. In some cases the money will be or gifts, or the scammer will claim they need the money for some kind of emergency. The scammers will keep asking for money until the victim realizes they’re being scammed. The scam has been known to find victims in both men and women.

    Romance scams have become such a problem that the FBI has issued a warning for this Valentine’s Day, except this year’s scam comes with a twist. Instead of asking for money, scammers are wanting victims to use their own bank account to send money. The scammers are asking their victims for their bank account information, so they can send them money and then the victim can send the money to a third party. According to the FBI, this is essentially a money laundering scheme where the romance scam victim is an unwitting middleman. The money being laundered is said to be the money stolen in the many unemployment scams that are currently plaguing the country. Even the victims in these cases, known as money mules, could potentially face prosecution.

    Now, you may think that you’re not susceptible to romance scams, and you’re probably right. But the chances are that you might know someone who is. If you feel like someone you know might be the victim of a romance scam, please let them know before it’s too late.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: romance scam,   

    Romance scammers can have local accomplices 

    Romance scammers can have local accomplices

    When we think of romance scams, we tend to associate the scam with overseas scammers. That’s understandable considering the vast majority of romance scam are perpetrated by overseas scam rings. However, these scam rings can have operatives that could possibly be in your neighborhood. That’s what one community in Virginia recently found out.

    A 63-year-old man from Ashburn, Virginia was recently arrested for allegedly taking part in a romance scam. The victim was a 60-year-old woman from Nebraska who had met someone through a dating site. As with all romance scams, the person the victim thought she was having a romantic relationship with started asking her for money. The claim made by the scammer was that he was working outside of the country and needed money to help with a new business they were starting. The scam was so elaborate, the scammers had a website set up for the phony startup.

    The victim eventually determined that she was being scammed and contacted her local police. Investigators were able to determine that the money being sent was being sent to the suspect in Virginia. When police in Virginia began to investigate the suspect, they determined that the man was working as a money launderer for an overseas scamming ring. Essentially, money launderers take the money sent from the victims by gift card or what have you, and converts it into real money before sending it overseas.

    As we keep saying, this scam could happen to anyone regardless of age, education, or economic status. If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that they 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 November 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam, , ,   

    A reminder that some scams never go away 

    A reminder that some scams never go away

    While we haven’t seen any new developments in scams today, we thought we’d help you brush up on some of the old classics. As always, just because these scams are being reported from different parts of the country, they can likely be applied to your region if they show up near you.

    Always be careful when buying a car online, especially if the price is too good to pass up. A woman in Oklahoma found what she thought was a great deal on a car for her son on Facebook Marketplace. The seller claimed the price was so cheap because her husband died and she also happened to be deploying with the military. On top of that, the seller asked for payment in gift cards and that the car will be shipped by eBay. Always be wary of any sob stories that come with bargains. Also, be suspicious if payment is requested in gift cards or some other untraceable form of payment. And keep in mind that eBay does not ship vehicles even if the vehicle is purchased on eBay.

    Social Security scams are abundant but the one that seems to be the most popular these days is what we call the impersonation scam. A man in Pennsylvania received a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The man was told that his Social Security number had been compromised. The scammer recited the man’s name, age, address, and the last four digits of his Social Security number and then asked the man to verify that information. Thankfully, the man recognized it as a scam and hung up. The SSA usually only communicates with recipients through the mail and would already have the information that the scammer was trying to verify.

    Lastly, a woman in Tennessee was taken in a romance scam recently. She met a man on a dating site. The man said that he had to go to Singapore for work but once he got there the man supposedly contracted COVID and was in ICU. The man said he needed money to be treated. Then a ‘friend’ of the man said that he needed to fly out to Singapore to help the first man so she paid for the plane ticket. She later found out that the pictures being used by the scammers were two evangelists from Brazil. Never send money to someone you haven’t met face to face. Romance scammers will go to great lengths in convincing their victims they’re in a relationship.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: romance scam,   

    Widows lose thousands in romance scams 

    Widows lose thousands in romance scams

    The saying goes that love is blind and nothing exhibits that phrase more than romance scams. In most romance scams, the scammer will pose as someone on dating apps or social media who is romantically interested in their victim. They’ll foster an online-only relationship for months in an attempt to convince the victim that the scammer is in love with them. Romance scammers will keep the charade up before asking their victims for large sums of money. The requests for money are usually disguised as some kind of emergency payment that the scammer needs right away. If the victim makes an initial payment, the scammer will continue to ask for more money as long as the victim will pay. We have seen reports where victims have lost hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.

    Two widows in two different parts of the country have come forward with their stories. Both lost thousands of dollars in separate romance scams with one of the victims losing something more valuable than money.

    The first victim is a widow from Georgia who met someone on a dating site. He would call her several times a day and even send her flowers. He claimed to be an engineer from Florida who just so happened to be working in Canada. He claims that a machine needed for his work is broken and he needs $15,000 for repairs. The scammer even got another person to verify his story. She ended up using money from her late husband’s life insurance policy before realizing she had been scammed.

    Another widow from West Virginia was taken in a similar scam but she didn’t just lose money, she also lost her home. She also met someone on a dating site but this scammer said they were from America but living overseas. This scammer claimed they wanted to come home to America but needed money to do so. Before it was all over, the scammer had asked for $20,000 which she paid. Unfortunately because of this, she ended up losing her home and having to move in with a relative.

    As we keep stressing, this scam could happen to anyone regardless of age, education, or economic status. 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 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.

     
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