The Dangerous Side of Online Romance Scams

Today, the IC3 published the following warning:

Intelligence Note

Prepared by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

April 29, 2011

The Dangerous Side of Online Romance Scams

The IC3 is warning the public to be wary of romance scams in which scammers target individuals who search for companionship or romance online. Someone you know may be “dating” someone online who may appear to be decent and honest. However, be forewarned: the online contact could be a criminal sitting in a cyber café with a well-rehearsed script that scammers have used repeatedly and successfully. Scammers search chat rooms, dating sites, and social networking sites looking for victims. The principal group of victims is over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled, but all demographics are at risk.

Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their “undying love.” These criminals also use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes. Scammers also ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing. These are all lies intended to take money from unsuspecting victims.

In another scheme, scammers ask victims to receive funds in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or wire transfer, claiming they are out of the country and unable to cash the instruments or receive the funds directly. The scammers ask victims to redirect the funds to them or to an associate to whom they purportedly owe money. In a similar scheme, scammers ask victims to reship packages instead of redirecting funds. In these examples, victims risk losing money and may incur other expenses, such as bank fees and penalties, and in some instances face prosecution.

Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, or injured, or in one instance, deceased. IC3 complainants most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers. If you are planning to meet someone in person that you have met online, the IC3 recommends using caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country, and, at the very least:

  • Do not travel alone.
  • Read all travel advisories associated with the countries you will visit. Travel advisories are available at http://travel.state.gov/.
  • Contact the United States Embassy in the country you plan to visit.

Even though it seems to be contrary to the thought of starting a new romance, do not be afraid to check a new acquaintance’s story online. Remember, like most fraudulent schemes, scammers use whatever personal information you provide to quickly paint themselves as your perfect match. If your new friend’s story is repeated through numerous complaints and articles on the Internet, it is time to apply common sense over your feelings. To obtain more information on romance scams and other types of online schemes, visit www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of scam should promptly report it to the IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov.

◊◊◊

The link for this article is here: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2011/110429.aspx.

Of particular interest and concern is the bolded language. If you are involved and at the point of traveling to meet face to face for the first time, please take heed and follow the IC3’s suggestions to stay safe. If you know someone who is, please pass this article and/or its link on to them.

Remember, help is always available free through http://www.romancescams.org and/or our group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancescams/. We will help you determine if the “man or woman of your dreams” is real or a scammer and then walk you through protecting you and your computer if it is found that this person is a scammer.

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22 Responses to The Dangerous Side of Online Romance Scams

  1. Ron Kendle says:

    I had the experience recently where a guy took $3,000 from me because I thought he was genuine and a decent person but he turned out to be a barstard

  2. Dacey says:

    I recently had a scammer take 288,000 from mr …how stupid was I? Ill nevver recover from it amd my life is left in a sambles

    • romancescams says:

      I am sorry, Dacey. Please take a look at our Yahoo support group and see if joining in might help give you the support you need during this challenging time.

      http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/romancescams

    • Dana says:

      Darcy…I had that amount taken from me from a scammer in Ghana. My only hope now is in Jesus. I am sorry that it happened to the both of us. My life is in shambles too and I’m constantly thinking on how I can recover. The
      Truth is that you wont and nothing will every be the same..I feel your pain

      • romancescams says:

        Dana, things will get better slowly. For support, please visit our Yahoo support group. We have helped tens of thousands of people just like you to heal and move past this devastating hurt.

  3. faith walker says:

    Yes the scammer is #1077 on pigbusters melspen247@gmail.com and melspen24/7@ymail.com. he recently admitted to me his identify and apologized for deceiving me.

  4. romancescams says:

    Faith, if you have not done so already, block this scammer every way he contacts you, run your anti-virus and malware on your computer and report him to the site where you met him. Continuing contact can only put you and your computer in danger to be hurt further.

    • Dana says:

      Sometimes when u report them to the dating site they failto take down theprofile. They really don’t care because they are released liability

  5. Joyce says:

    I had met a man supposedly named Erdman Beckert on the dating site. He seemed hot. But he supposedly took a business trip to Ghana and first needed a MacBook computer to do his business. So I lovingly went in debt for one and a bag to carry it with. The postage itself was over $500, Then he says he didn’t have money to get back home with and I became suspicious. If he was such a great worldly business man, why didn’t he have funds to come home with. Then he says he has malaria and now needs a router which costs $180. I refused his plea for $3000. But I did check on a router. I ordered it and was asked if I had met this person on a dating site. I said yes and he told me about this site. I had the order deleted and will not take his calls any more. The question in my head was what if I am wrong and he is for real? Did I want to give up the hope for this romance? Did I want to leave myself open for more fraud if this is the case? I decided that God would not want me to go through something like this, so I am denying his calls and pleas. He can not get to me any more. Once burned, for ever learned. I am done with him.

  6. Julie petty says:

    Beware of paul.ha22@yahoo.com. He found me on Ourtime. He suppose to be stranded in Dubai now. I wouldn’t send him the 3000.00 he was asking for.his phone number is 646-583-7296. He is a scammer. Do not give ur email address out.

  7. Hey I was also scammed by this person claiming to be in the military. Guess what he is not. He stole a picture of someone that is in the military claiming that is his photo but it really is not. He got me good for about $5,000 or $8,000 plus 15 payday loans all for him. He promised to show up I can’t count how many times. I went to the airport to wait for him guess what, he never showed and I tried to contact him, no luck there. It’s after I send him money that he takes a while to contact me again. He is still trying to give $500.00 so that I can send it to his secretary, when does a military person really need a personal secretary to handle his business affairs. He’s full of it. I told him that I would try and get that for him because he wants me to become the mother for his 18 year old son. Really I don’t think so, I got his number and I will not send him one red cent to save his life if he was dying. If he was burning, I would not even piss on him to put out the fire. I guess you can see how I feel.

    • RomanceScams says:

      If you have not done so, you need to delete, remove, block and ignore without another word to this criminal. Then you need to go here and file a report.
      http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
      When you are through filing the report, look for an email from them. It will have a case number on it. You can use that case number to file your losses on your income taxes. Hugs

  8. U think im being scammed by a Nigerian man. Ive read the article on it n every bit us true. Please HELP.

  9. Ellen Black says:

    Does anyone know of this person? Mohamed Khaled Whayeb Al Rawi — Aug. 2016
    My sister in Fl. has connected with a man first through FB then by phone and onto skype. He is in Dubai. He has her competely brainwashed. She truely beleives they’re madly in love. She has no money to send to him….he knows this. He has convinced her to get a passport to go to Dubai to meet face to face. He sent her money to get the passport & to be sending her money to fly there to stay for a week to get to know one another. He brags that he has a Masters Degree and can’t come to the US for them to meet because he’s studying for a Doctors degree. Suposedly he’ll be done in May 2017. Then says he’ll come to the US to be a DR. and love my sister til he die. Yes in those words. He says he’s so educated. He doesnt write well when texting or making post on FB. His language is broken up & at times doesn’t make sense. I have a strong gut feeling he is Not being honest. I’m afraid for my sister to go to Dubai to meet a stranger she met online. They say they fell in love over the 1 1/2 year they’ve talked. I feel she will be in danger once she gets to Dubai. I just dont know why its so important that he wants her to go there instead of him coming to the US. Seems shady on his part. My sister is single with two kids she will leave here when going for the visit for a week. I’m worried about the kids if he doesnt allow her to come home. He has completely turned her against her family and convinced her he’s the Only one that truly loves her. Can anyone share if anything like this has happened to you or to anyone you know that going to Dubai was not a Good thing or even worse they didnt come home. Again this persons name is Suposedly…. Mohamed Khaled Al Rawi.. If anyone knows of him please share as soon as possible……so I can convince my sister Not to go to Dubai . This is Aug. 2016. Thank you!!

    • RomanceScams says:

      Ellen, I believe your instincts are absolutely correct. This definitely has the signs of a scam: the poor English, the strong declarations of love, the insistence of her traveling there (probably because he is unable to get a passport to travel here). This man may not even live in Dubai; he could be in Nigeria or Ghana, hotspots for romance scams. How long has it been since he sent her money? Checks and money orders from these places are counterfeit. It may be some time before her bank learns and realizes that it is counterfeit. By then she will have spent that money and be responsible for paying the bank back. Does he have her account information and password? He could be attempting to use her for money laundering, in which case, she can be arrested and charged with this crime, even though she is an unwilling and uninformed participant. If your sister cannot be convinced to join our email group at http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/romancescams (safe link), I encourage you to join yourself and post your sister’s story. You will read more about why this may be a scam, also learn why your sister is so unable to detach herself from this man no matter what anyone says to her. There is a person in our group who can find the place of origin from the headers of emails, and who has access to a large number of reverse image sites.

      If she indeed travels to Dubai, she may find herself part of a new scam. Fees charged for lodging, food, other purchases will be inflated above the normal charges. The profits will be split between this man and the merchants who are his partners. Women who have traveled to Nigeria have been killed or held captive. The scammers force their victim into aiding them in scams, or working as a prostitute by threatening to harm family members back home.

      See if you can convince your sister to read through the information on our web page http://www.romancescams.org (safe link) just to see if any of it seems familiar to her. His photo can also be searched through Google.com/images or www tineye.com. There is also a database of photos used in scams. The link for that is also on our website.

      Also have her read this information from the state department:
      Terrorism: U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness, even though law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated the capacity to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism in the UAE. The Department of State remains concerned about the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Both historical and current information suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing. U.S. citizens should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens should avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects and report the presence of the objects to local authorities. U.S. government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. U.S. government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

      Photography: Taking photographs of UAE military, sensitive civilian sites or foreign diplomatic missions – including the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General – may result in arrest, detention, and/or prosecution by local authorities. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping that includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences.

      • seblack says:

        Thank you so much for the information you shared. I’m not going to give up trying to stop my sister from going to Dubai.
        Thank you !!

  10. Betty says:

    Im looking for people who have been scammed by Mark Wilson of Liverpool, England

  11. Karen Whalen says:

    I get those from Facebook pretending to be Trace Adkins the country singer. I know they are scammers. I had one today text me. I told them that I knew they was a scammer. They got mad and said they was coming to Illinois to get me. I have to say I’m worried after reading the warnings. I blocked the number. I also got hacked on my Facebook account.

    • RomanceScams says:

      Karen, I have a friend who received Facebook messages from Blake Shelton. He had a legitimate looking Facebook page where fans would leave messages. Then he befriended them as ndividuals. She thought it would be “fun” to “play” with him, make him m think she believed him. Because Imhad told her hatbImhad been scammed, she told me about this. The advised her not to,play games that can result in malware and viruses being downloaded into your notebook, computer, or phone. The best thing to do when you realize that you are in touch with a scammer is to go quiet. Just disappear and block all sources of contact. Make sure your Facebook settings are set to maximum privacy. Do not allow friends of friends to see nothing on your page.

      Scammers will threaten their victims if they can’t get cooperation in dong what they want, which usually ends up being money. Since most of the summers are in countries where it is next to impossible to get a passport they will not show up at your door. They may have another scammer write to tell you he has been hired to kill you. He may give you hugs information that makes you worried about how they know the color of your house, the features of your neighborhood. Hey simply use Google maps in Yule satellite view to gather these details. Please take a deep breath and think about this: scammers don’t waste their time on activities such as making threats, blackmailing, or trying to travel to where you live. They focus only on the money they can take from you. If they sense that is hopeless they may try to scare you, but they will have moved n to their next victim.

      • Karen Whalen says:

        I thank you for your advice. I will take it. I have to say I’m a little unnerved. I will take all extra measures to be safe. I get Scammers even on dating sites. If their first question is are you married? Do you live alone? It just seems to be a exploding problem. I don’t fall head over heals in love quickly. Especially on the web. I am every concern about those people who believe their lies. They lose everything and maybe their own life. I will certainly be more careful.

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