FBI warns of romance scams using online daters as money mules

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.

Federal law enforcement describe how to avoid dating site scams

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 into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam.

Online dating and social media have made it easier than ever to meet new people and find dates. Unfortunately, it has made scammers’ work.

Estimated reading time is 6 minutes. Do you have suspicions that a friend or family member is involved in a romance scam? Do you ever wonder why people fall for romance scams? While this figure may seem high, this is just what gets reported; many victims never make a report due to fear or embarrassment. She found she could join groups and play games via the social media channel. This interaction was the start of what Grace thought was an exciting new romance.

Over the next 18 months, the person claiming to be Malcom James drew Grace into what she thought was a loving relationship. It was in fact a scam leading to a series of escalating requests for money. We would speak every day. I just fell completely in love with him and we were soon discussing how we would build a life together once he was out of the Army. He said he was happy to move to Australia as he was a trained accountant, so he would easily get a job here. He said his accounts and credit cards had been shut down due to a computer issue, so he needed me to send a wire transfer to Nigeria where he had been transferred.

Justice News

The U. Embassy in Paris receives many inquiries from people who have been defrauded for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were their friends or loved ones. Internet con artists try to convince you to send them money. In many cases, scammers troll the Internet for victims, and spend weeks or months building a relationship.

The aggregate losses reached US$ million – an increase of more than 70 percent from “In , confidence/romance fraud was the.

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.

5 Warning Signs that Your Online Romance is Really a Scam

Attorney Byung J. This is a stark reminder that users of online dating websites should be aware of such scams and exercise extreme caution if asked for money by anyone online or over the phone. Wiley, Sr. According to U. Romance scams are a type of online fraud in which victims are targeted by individuals posing as potential paramours. The fraudsters create fake online dating profiles often with photographs of attractive men or women and use these fake personas to express a romantic interest in the victims in order to trick them into sending money to them or their co-conspirators under false pretenses.

Online Dating Scams. According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U.S. and Canada have reported losing more than $1 billion over.

Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery.

The U. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes. See examples of fake documents used by scammers.

Romance scams

Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal.

What’s especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U.

Singles might be using online dating sites like and apps like Tinder Luebke also said most of the scammers aren’t from the U.S.

So which states have the biggest problems with catfishing—and which have the least? We looked at FBI and Census data to determine your likelihood of being scammed in romance. Catfishing usually refers to online romance scams where someone uses a fake online profile to attract victims. Still, it can also come in the form of family, friends, or business relationships. The non-western states with the highest rates of catfishing are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Florida, and Maryland.

Compared to their western counterparts, people in the Midwest and South seem better clued into the catfishing scams—or perhaps the West is better about reporting? In terms of cost per victim, the top three states could all buy a self-driving dual-motor AWD Tesla Cybertruck and still have some change left over to go on some fancy dates. Love hurts, but so does losing a bunch of money to an online scam. There are many ways a catfish can try to rob you of your money, time, or effort.

As a result of that belief, the victim is persuaded to send money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator or to launder money on behalf of the perpetrator. Author – Trevor Wheelwright. He lives in Salt Lake City and enjoys photography and making music in his spare time, or you can catch him on your local dance floor bustin’ a move. Email me occasional updates on speed and pricing in my area.

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When Romance Is a Scam

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.

With the proliferation of online dating websites, forums and social media channels, these scams are moving increasingly into the online space. Online.

Sh’reen Morrison had been on an online dating site for only a few weeks before she realized that something was seriously wrong with the man who had been actively pursuing her by text message and email. They’d hit it off right away, and he said he lived just outside of Phoenix, which seemed relatively proximate to a woman in remote Yuma, Ariz. But meeting in person was always a problem.

First, he was traveling through India with his daughter. Then the daughter became ill and had to be hospitalized. When Morrison suggested that her suitor put his daughter on a plane to get better medical attention at home — and even offered to pick the girl up at the airport — a new crisis struck. By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.

The ending came as no surprise to experts on romance scams. Though the amounts and details of the scam vary from victim to victim, when it comes to romance scams, the con is almost always the same: The crook wants to get a besotted victim to wire money or provide access to a credit card. If the victim doesn’t figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get.

When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. To be sure, these scams aren’t new. But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate. There are no statistics saying just how common scammers are on dating sites.

Report Scams and Frauds

Sure, you can find love online. You could also find yourself falling for a clever con artist who will gain your trust and rob you blind. It happens all too often. For the past two years, more money has been lost to romance scams than any other type of scam reported to the FTC.

Sh’reen Morrison had been on an online dating site for only a few weeks before she realized that something was seriously wrong with the man.

Dating and romance scams are very destructive — both financially and emotionally. These scams also cause significant emotional harm, with many victims reporting a break down in relationships with friends and family. With the proliferation of online dating websites, forums and social media channels, these scams are moving increasingly into the online space.

Online communication channels allow scammers to operate anonymously from anywhere in the world. They can be very elaborate hoaxes, sometimes taking years to develop and run by experienced criminal syndicates. The scammer develops a strong connection with the victim before asking for money to help cover costs associated with a supposed illness, injury, family crisis, travel costs or to pursue a business or investment opportunity. There have been reports of scammers using this material to blackmail victims.

Watch out: If an online admirer asks to communicate with you outside the dating website, such as through a private email address or over the phone, watch out — they could be trying to avoid detection. If you are considering meeting in person, choose a public place and let family or friends know where you are at all times. Search: Run a Google Image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided. Report: If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Scamwatch – www. NSW Fair Trading – www.

How to Spot Online Dating Scams