Men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say

Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U. Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don’t realize they are a victim until it is too late. We also have information about how to report a dating scammer if you or someone you love has fallen victim to one. Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation and can sound very convincing. Many of the signs of a romance scammer are subtle and insidious because the scammer is trying to build trust before they exploit you. Often times, the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time. Guard your personal information carefully, and be wary if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact.

Online Dating Scammers Will Steal Your Heart — and Your Cash

Online dating scams also referred to as internet romance scams are attempts to defraud users of online dating websites through fictitious personal profiles. Perpetrators of these scams often misrepresent themselves as single individuals looking for a romantic or sexual relationship to develop an emotional bond with the victim, which can then be used to extort money or goods from the victim.

These scams frequently originate overseas, particularly West Africa or Eastern Europe , although scammers have been known to operate inside the United States as well [1].

US prosecutors charged 80 people — mostly Nigerians — in the widespread conspiracy Online dating scam is ‘one of the largest of its kind’.

Authorities have arrested seven men across the U. The scheme, which operates out of Nigeria, targeted victims by taking on false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms with an intention to trick victims into giving them money, according to a Justice Department release. Federal authorities arrested seven of the ten men charged in the complaint on Wednesday, five of whom were in Norman, Oklahoma.

Since , the co-conspirators were able to conceal the proceeds of their romance scam operations by moving money between multiple bank accounts that were opened using fraudulent identity documents. This move allowed the defendants obscure the source of the funds and the other members of their scheme, which spanned continents. Federal investigators were able to identify three victims of the scams in Seminole, Florida, Centerville, Ohio and Pryor, Oklahoma.

However, the Justice Department said that there are still many unknown individuals who were operating the scams overseas in Nigeria. Romance scams have become frequent subjects of federal investigations, particularly as the individuals involved continue to impersonate veterans and military personnel in an effort to convince victims that they are working abroad and are worthy of sympathy.

70+ common online scams used by cyber criminals and fraudsters

The promise of Internet romance is also the bait for online scams. Here are tip-offs to bogus Web lovers. They met on a dating website just before Valentine’s Day Richie described himself as “loving, caring and hard-working. Richie explained “hard-working” in the first of their many online chats. Weeks into daily instant messaging, she knew she had lost her heart to Richie.

Gender and age demographics of victims of online romance scams in A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, The scammer meets the victim on an online dating site, lives in a foreign by organized Internet crime gangs often operating out of Nigeria or Ghana.

The most common comment of victims who think they have found the love of their life is “I can’t believe I was so stupid! From internet cafes all over west African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal etc scammers are zeroing in on their prey – singles looking for love online. The Nigerian dating scams are hugely profitable. The scammers spend their day trolling the dating sites and chat rooms for contact emails, and then send off thousands of fraudulent letters and emails awaiting the victim’s replies.

They are offering the chance of finding true love and happiness, and there are plenty of takers! However sooner or later, the vulnerable hearts receive requests that will ultimately lead to financial losses and heartbreak.

Here’s how a ring of romance scammers tricked victims into falling in love

In March , a man claiming to be a US Army captain stationed in Syria reached out to a Japanese woman on an international site for digital pen pals. The man who called himself Terry Garcia asked for money — lots of it — from the woman identified as FK in federal court documents. But in reality, Garcia did not exist.

Of those, 17 people have been arrested in the US so far and federal investigators are trying to track down the rest in Nigeria and other nations.

Most of the defendants are Nigerians, the Associated Press reported. “We believe this is one of the largest cases of its kind in U.S. history,” U.S.

In the past, con artists from Nigeria often pretended to be princes in trouble to get your personal information. Now they use more refined scams to rake in millions. They recently released a report on West African cybercrime, which includes Nigeria. That woman drove miles to a rural town to meet a man she had never met, but believed she was in love with.

Others sent letters. Where are you? What do you want me to do with the clothes, with the laptop I purchased? The former agent’s name and location were used to reel in people looking for love all across the country. It all began with scripts blasted out on dating websites. They choose these individuals because they are lonely, [and] in most occasions, they have access to money,” said Todd Williams, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

That’s when she got suspicious and called police. The Nigerian crime ring created a network of what investigators call electronic-mules, or e-mules, across the U. These victims unwittingly helped carry out a bunch of money-making schemes, like cashing fake checks and shipping goods bought with stolen credit cards.

Romance Scams: The Email Threat That Breaks Hearts and Banks

Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. Ten men have been charged with conspiring to launder illegal proceeds that were fraudulently obtained as a result of Nigerian romance scam operation targeting multiple victims. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in October and unsealed today after seven suspects were apprehended in early morning operations executed by the FBI in three states.

The scheme, which operates out of Nigeria, targeted victims by taking on false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms.

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Here are the Top Online Scams You Need to Avoid Today [Updated 2019]

Most of the defendants are Nigerians, the Associated Press reported. Attorney Nick Hanna told a news conference. Army captain in his efforts to smuggle himself and his friends out of Syria. The woman met him online and had been emailing for 10 months. There was no such army captain. Romance-related scams are now the most costly form of online fraud, the Federal Trade Commission warned earlier this year.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs also has additional information on Internet Dating and Romance Scams. If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, please.

A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf. Number of cases rose from to in only two years.

Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Communications are exchanged between the scammer and victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have connected with the victim enough to ask for money. These requests may be for gas money, bus or airplane tickets to visit the victim, medical or education expenses. There is usually the promise the scammer will one day join the victim in the victim’s home.

How to Avoid and Protect Yourself From Online Dating & Romance Scams

Sasha-Ann Simons. According to the FBI, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other internet crimes. The ideal partner turns out to be a sophisticated scam artist, and a love-struck single is left not only broken-hearted — but broke. Being scammed by a romantic interest met online is now the most common type of consumer fraud in the United States, according to the Federal Trade Commission FTC.

In , nearly 40 D. And the criminal acts go beyond city and state borders, involving networks of accomplices overseas.

Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them.

Oftentimes, the con artists convince their marks to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds. The story may be spun further, and the scammer will ultimately convince the victim to open the account in their name or register a limited liability company and allow money transfers to flow into the account. In reality, however, the fraudsters transfer stolen money into the account and instruct their unsuspecting crime accomplices into forwarding the money to accounts controlled by the fraudsters.

A recent report by the Better Business Bureau BBB said that up to 30 percent of romance scam victims in were used as money mules. Worse still, it is generally recognized that most victims are too embarrassed to come forward, so the actual losses are expected to be far higher. Obviously, romance scammers also scout for victims on social media, where, just like on dating sites, they lure victims with fake online profiles, creating attractive personas and elaborate plots.

Here are two more articles and a video about dating fraud, complete with recommendations for how to stay safe. When love becomes a nightmare: Online dating scams.

Letter from Africa: Why Nigeria’s internet scammers are ‘role models’

Please contact customerservices lexology. A romance scam occurs when two people contact each other on a dating app or elsewhere on the internet. Communications unfold between the two people with the purported goal of finding love. However, while one of the two people is intent on finding a dream match, the other person seeks to earn trust to fleece money over time from the innocent dating victim.

Information regarding online romance scams. Army CID is warning anyone who is involved in online dating to proceed with caution when Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission on Nigerian Scams.

Correspondents may cultivate the relationship for several months before asking for money, but if they are after your money, eventually they will ask for it. Before you send any money to Ghana, please take the time to do your research and inform yourself. Start by considering the fact that scams are common enough to warrant this warning. Next, look over this partial list of indicators. If any of them sound familiar, you are likely the victim of an internet scam.

We advise U. Many Americans have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams. In the event you do lose money, be warned that your chances of getting it back are almost nil. Furthermore, this type of crime is not a priority for local police and it is difficult to prosecute these cases. The Embassy can offer a sympathetic ear, share information on protecting yourself against such scams, and help you determine if your situation is real or fraudulent, but cannot do much else.

Watch out, Nigerian con artists no longer hide behind princes in an attempt to steal your cash

We, humans, can become an easy target for malicious actors who want to steal our most valuable personal data. Criminal minds can reach these days further than before, into our private lives, our homes and work offices. And there is little we can do about it. Source: Federal Trade Commision. For this reason, we need to know what are the most popular techniques malicious actors are using to get unauthorized access to our private information and financial data.

Use the links below to quickly navigate the list of online scams you need to stay away from right now.

Being scammed by a romantic interest met online is now the most common type of consumer fraud in the United States, How Much Money Was Lost To Dating Scams “The FBI says he’s probably in Nigeria,” Ann says.

Ken Duffy KenDuffyNews. More people are turning to online dating for a semblance of companionship during the coronavirus crisis — sites often rife with sophisticated scams targeting Americans from overseas, the FBI warns. Singles might be using online dating sites like Match. But while it might be a nice way to have human contact online, it may leave people more vulnerable to scammers who want to drain bank accounts.

It might be a fake story about the inability to pay bills or a death in the family. In one recent D. The suspect, from Nigeria, traveled to Atlanta in December, when he was arrested on a series of charges, including money laundering. Luebke said the prime suspect is currently being held in D.

10 Most Horrifying Real Online Dating Scams