A Romance Scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims’ money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, and/or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
This scam usually starts over the internet, you might receive an unexpected email , or meet somebody in a chat room or contacted via Facebook , a Dating Site or other social media site. Over the weeks and months you exchange messages your friendship builds, photos are exchanged and trust built.
Although you have never met in person, you start to have genuine feelings for this person, they appear to display a good set of family values and morals, they might be the same age and background as you and have common interests but are living or working abroad, which is why you have been unable to meet.
They seem genuinely interested in you and ask lots of questions. Then one day you get a request for money, maybe an accident that requires urgent medical treatment for your friend or a member of their family, or maybe they are stuck at the airport and have to pay a bribe to leave the country or they will be sent to prison, maybe they need money to buy an airline ticket to come to your country to meet you. You, being a good trusting friend, send the money (usually through Western Union).
If you catch them, they may occasionally admit the scam, but then say that you are special and in this instance claim their love for you is in fact genuine. They sometimes use blackmail, threatening to send photos to your workplace or friends. They will sometimes ask for more money to release the money you have already sent them.
You have been the target of a professional scammer; they are probably sitting in a room full of computers, probably somewhere in West Africa, sending out hundreds, if not thousands of emails a day to potential victims.
The person you have been corresponding with is nothing like the person in photos they have sent you of themselves and their families. Their only purpose in befriending you is to get money from you, or obtain sufficient personal information from you, to build a separate identity to scam their next victim.
They have a variety of tried and tested pretexts for asking you for money, all false and all designed to pull at the heart strings. Once they have finished with you, your name and email details are put on a list and then circulated amongst other scammers for future targeting.
Never send money abroad.
Never volunteer personal information about yourself that might make you vulnerable to fraud or blackmail.
Beware of somebody who falls in love to quickly, or asks a lot of personal questions.
Never send embarrassing or intimate photographs.
If you have sent money to somebody, never send more money to try and recover the money you have already sent (you are still being conned).
Beware of poorly written emails offering friendship that arrive unexpectedly often referring to god or religion.
There are a number of good sites who specialize in giving advice on Romance Scams, Internet Fraud and where to report them.
If your Romance Scammer is using the same false identity with other victims as they are with you and if you and the other target are both members of Fidelity-Check-Online we can put you in contact and put a stop to his or her game!