A romance scam occurs when a man or woman pretends to be romantically interested in someone who is looking for love or friendship on an internet dating or social media site, in order to obtain financial gain. The scammers target those aged between 35-70, which includes disabled and disadvantaged people. There are usually several people involved in a romance scam (particularly University students) that are networking between the globe eg. Nigeria, Turkey, UK, US, Australia and Malaysia. They use phone numbers starting with Nigerian country code +234 and redirect to anywhere in the world phone numbers +4470, and +13 and VOIP numbers such as Magic Jack.
Scammers copy and paste photos of attractive women and wealthy businessman from anywhere across the internet and present these fake profiles to lure in their victims. They use poetic scripts to play the role of the romantic, sweet, kind, caring and considerate lover. They like to follow a story or script because they can remain consistent and reduce the amount of contradictions that can create doubt because it is several people talking to one victim at any one time. The victims feels that they have found the partner of their dreams and the person they want to spend the rest of their life with and will go to great lengths to be with the one they love.
Once the emotional attachment is strong, the scammer claims misfortune in some manner - a car accident, a mugging, a hospital in-patient, loss of wallet and paperwork, money needed for their business, sick mother, sick child needs medical bills paid, birthday gifts, tuition fees or their hotel was burnt down with all their paperwork and belongings now destroyed. They will appear forlorn and encourage the victim to help them financially by making a money transfer through one of the major money movers like Western Union or MoneyGram and ask that it be kept quiet for fear of embarrassment to the victims family upon meeting them.
The victim feels uncomfortable at the speed of the developing relationship pace but develops a strong emotional attachment to their sweet words of love. Family members may become alarmed when they discover financial transactions taking place and become critical of the developing relationship. The relationship tends to becomes secretive and a triangle develops between the victim, the manipulative scammer and the victims family. The scammer will attack disapproval by introducing doubt and will answer with a question or just drop out of the communication if confronted. Most victims find it hard to resist the pull towards the scammers seduction due to the heavy pattern of romantic attention the scammer has created and many will lose financially before their illusion is broken resulting in a physical, spiritual and emotional breakdown.
A romance scammer will use any type of communication to carry the scam such as Facebook, WhatsApp, email, phone text, prayer sites,dating sites, Yahoo Groups, forums - some portraying themselves as victims of scams. police or political representatives and military personnel.
A variation of the romance scam involves drug scams and the following people have been or are now incarcerated in foreign prisons having been used by drug cartels as mules. The following innocent people have been jailed for being a victim of a romance scam.
Sharon Armstrong - 4 years 10 months imprisonment - Argentina
Antony De Malmanche - 15 years imprisonment - Kerobokan
Maria Exposto - Not yet sentenced - received the death penalty and in 2019 her conviction was overturned - Malaysia
Norma Fex - 7 years imprisonment - Peru
John Warwick - died in custody - Guangzhou China
Paul Frampton - 4 years 8 months imprisonment - Argentina
If you have any of the signs below - you are dealing with a deceptive online profile
- They have asked you for a money transfer and you have not yet met them in person
- They encourage you in any way to beg, borrow or steal for them - this includes questioning loan approvals, checking if transfers have been made and asking how much your friend can loan you.
- They send you an airline ticket to meet them overseas - DANGER - you are being set up for a drug scam - your flight will be redirected by the scammer upon destination and if you are caught with drugs travelling through China or Indonesia you may be looking at long term imprisonment or the death penalty with high legal costs to your distraught family.
- You have no solid proof that they exist
- They drop out of IM and logging in or changing status or leaving strange status messages
- They become overly defensive or vague when you question their behaviour
- Their emails seem like they may have been copied from a poetry site
- The majority of your communication is received and sent by text - ie. email, messenger
- When you ask for more photos, they delay your request or send you photos of a slightly different person
- They refuse to webcam by making excuses that their equipment does not work
- They send you their private email address of yahoo and hotmail in their first contact with you and ask you to go to IM to chat rather than chat through the dating site
- They introduce themselves with full name, christian and surname
- They are self-employed - traveling overseas and headed towards Africa or Malaysia
- They are widowers with children or divorced with child because their ex cheated on them
- They have asked that you purchase a laptop or mobile phone or even open a bank account or social media account for them
- They are requesting money because they have lost their wallet, their hotel burned down, they had an unfortunate accident and ended up in hospital?
- They are asking you to help them with money to pay their hotel bills, and/or medical costs
- They are wealthy and yet request money from you to fund their business venture or day to day living costs
- They have requested Western Union transfer or MoneyGram
- They have refused your offer to purchase a airfare ticket from your local travel agent
- They have sent you a copy of the e ticket, itinerary, boarding pass or flight confirmation
- They speak with an unusual accent other than their supposed homeland
- They avoid meeting you by not arriving at the airport
- They will give you a post code unrelated to the address they have requested money to be sent to
- They have contacted you through Facebook and their profile looks new without friends on their friend list
If you are experiencing more than one of the above signs, you are being scammed. If you have been sent money to buy an airline ticket, you are being set up by a drug syndicate as a mule. Please contact us for assistance.