Romance scammers are in this for one purpose only . . .
TO MAKE A PROFIT.
Learn how these scams work so you can protect yourself.
How the Scam Works:
Romance Scams are BIG business. Run just like any “for profit” organization, there is a hierarchy and an organizational structure: the peons, the managers, the big bosses, the pimp daddies. Internet cafes are shut down to normal business so scammers can do “their jobs”. Home computers are a rare commodity. Most households in West Africa and other third world countries cannot afford them nor can they afford the cost of a monthly connection. Because of the easy money made from victims, scammers are well-to-do respected business men/women who quit their “normal” day jobs.
Scammers work in shifts. They have a script to follow, just like telemarketers. This is why they all sound the same. This is why the words are so similar. They are taught what to say and when to say it. They normally work in groups of six people. This is why they are always on the computer and at times it seems you are talking to different people. There may be times when they have forgotten what you talked about before or call you a different name. They take time to respond to you because they are talking to other people. When they are gone from the computers for any amount of time they are either looking up information in order to answer you or are consulting with a more experienced member of their “team”.
Scammers send sweet words, poems, and love letters…all stolen from sites on the internet. The people behind these scams are men, women, and teenagers of ALL ages. The male victims, who think they’re talking to a real beauty, may in fact be talking to a male as young as 13 years old.
The pictures are stolen from various sites and previous victims. We have some modeling sites listed. Recently scammers have been using previous victims’ photos from dating and social networking sites.
Nigeria is a cash-based society. All services, all hotel rooms, and all hospital services must be paid for in advance. The norm in Nigerian culture is to call a family meeting when a problem occurs. They have family meetings for everything. They do not get on the internet, pick a stranger off a dating site, fall in love within a few days and immediately ask for money. Scammers know victims might be aware of this and is one of the reasons why they almost immediately begin calling the victim their husband or wife.
Scammers may claim they’re being held hostage in the hospital. Call the hospital directly and ask about the “patient”. If they are asking for money to be released from the hospital, they aren’t really in the hospital. Again, Nigeria is cash-based society. ALL HOSPITAL SERVICES MUST BE PAID IN ADVANCE.
When anyone you are in contact or relationship with online claims they are an American overseas, direct them to the American Embassy for help. The Embassy will help send them home. The American Embassy highly recommends that individuals doing business in Nigeria be registered with the Embassy for their safety.
New Twist on the Scam:
When the scammer is caught by the victim and admits the crime, the next thing they do is swear they have fallen in love with the victim. Some people walk away but others do believe what they are told. After all by this time, the victim has such strong feelings for the scammer, how in the world can he/she not have feelings for them? So the victims who believe and stay are drawn into a different scam which turns out to be a whole lot more dangerous. The scammer continues the work to solidify their victim’s love and trust. The requests then start for a victim to visit the scammer in their home country.
The first visit is all about grooming the victim . The scammer will use this first visit to further solidify the relationship, so the victim “knows” this is real. After that the scammer will draw them in further ending up actually using the victim to scam other people.
We were informed by the FBI, about a woman they dealt with who has visited her scammer four times. The first visit was a dream come true. After that, she started getting drawn in to help her “love”. When she came back from the fourth visit, she was petrified with all that was going on and went to the FBI. She is in this so deep now, it is hard to get out. She is facing felony charges for her involvement. Turning in evidence can get her a lighter sentence. However, she is now under protection as she is so involved in the scam that her life and the lives of her loved ones are in danger. As long as the victim cooperated, they were safe. Once she stopped cooperating, then she and her family are in grave danger.
We are aware of “detectives” or “private investigators” who are offering their services for a fee to track down a person’s scammer. They promise to identify who the scammer is and for an additional fee have them arrested and bring them to justice. Many people have been contacted by these fakes asking for money to assist. We know this is a continuation of the scam.
There are some fake detectives/investigators that have set up web sites stating they are NET Detectives. There are some that are showing associations to different investigative organizations. We spoke with the FBI about the affiliations and were told that they are PAID associations and anyone can be a member if they pay the fee. It in no way makes them legitimate.
The FBI also has told us there is NO WAY for anyone to really trace who the scammers are from this end. They are cloaked behind phony names and identities. The most they can tell you is they are scammers, but then we can tell you the same thing right here and we do it for FREE. If the investigator is based in Nigeria or any other West African country (and more recently in Malaysia and the United Kingdom), they are also most likely a scammer. While these “investigators” make it sound good, after they have supposedly located your scammer, they need additional money to have them arrested and brought to justice. The truth — it is another part of a scam and designed to further empty your purse or wallet. In any event, this “investigator” is either a scammer or someone who is willing to profit from the victim’s pain and loss.
Steps to Take if you have been scammed:
- Immediately cease all contact with the scammer! Block their email address, ignore their instant messages, ignore their phone calls;
- Contact Western Union to see if the payment has not been picked up yet (if not, cancel the transfer immediately);
- Keep your email conversations and instant messages on your computer. Make copies of everything to give to the various reporting agencies, and keep all receipts and envelopes –anything that can be used as evidence;
- Report the scammer to dating site you were contacted on, Yahoo Profiles, the FBI IC3 , police department (make a report) and our database;
- Contact the bank fraud department and make payment arrangements if a check/money order has been found fraudulent and you owe money to them;
- Contact the bank fraud department if you suspect a check you deposited will come back fraudulent;
- Contact your Postal Carrier/Post Office and ask that no packages to be delivered at your home/ work. Also bring checks and money orders that you received to the post office to make a report and turn them over;
- Contact your Postal Carrier/Post Office if you have been sent packages or letters to forward for a scammer. Keep the envelopes or shipping package for evidence;
- Contact any companies that have sent you gifts or merchandise and inform them that they were purchased on a stolen credit card and make arrangements to have the items returned;
- Contact your local police department. They may not do anything but it will help you to create a paper trail.
After being scammed you are put on a “contact” list by the scammers. You will be receiving random instant messages and emails from people you do not know. These are scammers trying to scam you again. Please immediately block them and report them as “spam”. You will know within 5 minutes if it’s a scammer by looking at the profile, how they write/speak, their picture, they state they live in a West African country (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, to name a few), they confess their love in the first meeting, they claim God brought you to them, etc. Eventually if you keep blocking them, they will stop and you will be placed on a “NO” contact list.