Dating Love Romance Scams [Video]

I was a victim of an online dating scam

In a typical con, the perpetrator will spend weeks or even months building up a romantic relationship with a victim through e-mails, texts or phone calls, before eventually asking for money.

After years of dating frustration, Montana resident Debbie Best thought her luck had finally changed when she met a handsome antiques dealer from Florida through an online dating site. But then her newfound boyfriend started asking for money. A lot of it.

Now — six months later and $1,500 poorer — Best believes she was the victim of an online dating scam.

“I left my heart out there, and this guy took advantage of it,” the 51-year old Best said.

In 2011, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints from victims of so-called “romance scammers” — criminals who scan online dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites for potential victims. The victims reported collective losses of $50.4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.

About 70% of the victims were female; more than half were women 40 years or older.

In a typical con, the perpetrator will spend weeks or even months building up a romantic relationship with a victim through e-mails, texts or phone calls, before eventually asking for money. And many of the scammers aren’t even in the United States.

“In the process of going back and forth, a scammer is going to try to figure out what makes a person tick, what their vulnerable spots are,” said Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman. “Because a victim has legitimate feelings, they might be inclined to offer financial support for this person.”

For Best, it all started when she signed up for a free online dating site called mingle2. A man calling himself “John” messaged her and through daily phone calls and messages on Facebook, he gained her trust. He spoke with what she thought was a British accent and his picture on Facebook portrayed a nice-looking man with graying hair and a beard.

In July, “John” told her that he was traveling to the United Kingdom to buy antiques for his store. Then one day he called saying he went to Nigeria to buy more, but he was stuck — he asked her for $5,000 cash to get his purchases back to the States.

At first, Best — who juggles two part-time jobs working with developmentally-disabled adults and people with mental illness — resisted, telling John she simply didn’t have the money. But he persisted. “He was trying to get me to use my credit cards, borrow from my friends and family,” said Best, who earlier told her saga to The Huffington Post.

When he told her days later he couldn’t afford to eat, Best gave in, wiring him two $250 payments.

But as he continued to push for money, Best realized something was off. She searched Web forums, eventually finding another woman’s story of a scammer with the same name. Then she received a nearly $1,000 phone bill from calling the phone number he had said wouldn’t charge her.

CNNMoney’s attempts to reach “John” on his international phone number provided by Best revealed that it was based out of Nigeria — a hotbed for online scams — and has since been disconnected. Attempts to call the U.S. number Best reached him at revealed the number was no longer in service and was hosted by MagicJack, an Internet-based phone service that allows people anywhere in the world to make unlimited calls from a U.S. phone number.

Mingle2, the dating site, did not respond to requests for comment.

…read more

Source CNN Money

Love Scams, Romance Scams, Sweetheart Scams, Valentine Scams

Singapore, Malaysia police team up to cripple cross-border Internet love scam syndicates involved in 108 cases

SINGAPORE – A joint operation conducted in several Malaysian states last week yielded 27 arrested suspects believed to be involved in cross-border Internet love scam syndicates.

The operation, which took place from Feb 6 to 8, was a joint effort between the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), Royal Malaysia Police, Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

Among those arrested were 13 Nigerian nationals believed to have had a hand in 108 such scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia.

The victims’ total losses were estimated at around RM21.6 million (S$6.9 million), said SPF in a news release on Monday

Telecommunications devices, computers and ATM cards were also seized during the operation.

“This marks the first successful joint investigation between the two departments against elusive criminals involved in syndicated Internet love scams,” SPF added.

It added that during the course of joint investigations, the CAD provided “timely information” to the CCID, which allowed its investigators to establish the suspects’ identities.

While arrest operations were ongoing in Malaysia, the CAD coordinated investigations against six female suspects in Singapore who transferred criminal proceeds to Malaysia-based suspects.

CAD director David Chew said: “The success of this joint investigation is a testament to the close ties between CAD and CCID. Online scams are increasingly complex and transnational in nature.

“To the criminals who think that they could hide behind the cloak of anonymity provided by the Internet to perpetrate fraud, we want to send a deterrent message that crime does not pay.”

According to the SPF’s 2016 crime statistics released last week, Internet love scams in Singapore hit an all-time high.

There were 636 cases, up from 385 in 2015. The total amount cheated was also the highest by far at $24 million – double the $12 million victims were fooled into giving in 2015.

…read more

Source: StraitsTimes

The internet scammer who loved me (not)

I got involved with a scammer to better understand why people fall for their stories – and discovered it’s as much about tricking yourself as being tricked

On 2 February, at the cusp of Valentine’s Day, the Los Angeles sheriff’s department warned of the “growing criminal epidemic” of romance scams during a community meeting called Love Hurts.

Romance scams are a type of online fraud, in which criminals pose as desirable partners on dating sites or email, win the hearts of their victims and end up fleecing them of their money. Lt Antonio Leon said the forum’s name was tongue-in-cheek, “but the truth of the matter is that love really does hurt, for some people”.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, last year romance scam victims lost $173m in California alone. Ouch. And that’s just the reported scams; victims are often too embarrassed to report they’ve been duped.

So how is it possible people still fall for them? That’s the attitude I used to have – until I got involved with a scammer myself, and things got messy.

I met “Cindy” via my spam folder, not long after I moved to New York City from Melbourne. “If you would be interested for a serious friendship hit me back with more details about yourself. I am 26 years old, I live alone in Senegal.” Yes, Cindy was obviously a scammer. And knowing this, I got back to her.

Let me back up. I’d become fascinated with scams back when I lived in Australia. Back then I was researching them for a TV show. Scams were a hot-button topic, and I went to a victims’ support group to learn more. That’s where I met a widower named Bill.

“I just wanted someone to hold me,” Bill said, explaining why he joined a dating site in the first place. He met someone, fell in love, and was eventually left bankrupt. Bill and I became friends. He was a smart, worldly man, and I was baffled as to how he could have fallen for a scam.

Just before I left Australia, Bill and I celebrated his 80th birthday. We talked about his scam, and Bill said something that stuck with me. He said that in the back of his mind he knew he was being scammed, but he kept sending money because couldn’t bear for his relationship to end. This fascinated me – it seemed his loneliness overrode his common sense. Even as Bill and I spoke about the detrimental effects of scams, I was pretty sure he was still sending money overseas. I suspected that when I left his place, he’d jump online and give himself over to his scam once more.

Not long after, I moved to New York with my boyfriend, Michael. Michael went to work in an office and made new friends, while I stayed home and researched scams. I was haunted by Bill’s story, and I wanted to write about lovelorn victims like him, but I also wanted to find out more about perpetrators – those who leech victims of their money.

And that’s when Cindy’s email arrived. I got a notification that Cindy wanted to talk via Gchat, and voilà, I thought: I had my guinea pig scammer.

In customized curly rainbow font, Cindy asked what the weather was like in Mumbai, which made me realize she had her wires crossed between me and someone else she was scamming. I decided there was no need to correct her, for now, so I Googled the weather in Mumbai.

Cindy sent a photo: a pretty, ponytailed woman about my age, with a full build, leaning against a car. Scammers often steal photographs online, and though I knew that the “Cindy” I was chatting to was probably not the woman in the photo, it was easier to attach a face to the name. So whenever I communicated with Cindy, I pictured the woman leaning on the car.

The soccer World Cup was starting, and in Australia I’d always watched with friends. Cindy said she wasn’t into soccer, but that she’d make an effort to watch because I liked it, and that’s the sort of thing people in relationships did for each other. According to her, we were dating.

So while my boyfriend was at work, my Senegalese girlfriend and I watched soccer and chatted online. When my boyfriend wasn’t at work, I tactfully closed my laptop, because I preferred for him not to think I was chatting to a scammer all day.

Cindy was either the most attentive person I have ever semi-dated (ready with a “hi babe!” the second I came online) or she was a team of people. I knew scammers often worked for syndicates, taking shifts, communicating with dozens of victims at once, referring to dossiers (“she is into World Cup soccer”, mine might say). Whether Cindy was a lone wolf or a group, I took comfort knowing I was chatting with someone real – which was better than talking to my dogs – so I’d rattle off my opinions on Brazil’s team into a chat box and wait for Cindy’s immediate ping of response.

And then, one day, Cindy asked for my photo.

This was a problem, as she still thought I was a middle-aged Indian man. I decided to come clean. “I am a woman. I hope you won’t be angry with me,” I said, assuming she would dump me and move on to a more trustworthy victim.

But Cindy surprised me by saying she’d been brought up believing women should be with men, but that she had fallen in love with me, and was willing to take a chance on a same-sex relationship if I was. I found this simultaneously funny, confusing and endearing. She asked for a photo, and, slightly baffled by this turn of events, against all reason, I sent one.

That night she sent an email:

“The feelings I have for you is true and will last for Eternity as long as you accept me in your heart just as I have accepted you.

“I love you. I Love Every little thing about you.

“I love your Cute smile, your magical eyes, and the sound of your words.”

And though I was fully aware that Cindy had cut and pasted this from somewhere, and I knew that a scammer’s job was to stroke victims’ egos, I couldn’t help but glance at the photo I sent Cindy to see if my eyes did indeed look magical.

Cindy asked me to call. Suddenly my scammer had a voice, which didn’t sound like that of a criminal, but of a tired woman keeping her voice down. A baby started crying and Cindy was quick to say it was someone else’s kid. I wondered if she was lying. Does she have a partner, I thought, or is she a single parent?

Then Cindy told me she was being evicted, and she needed $140. And there it was: I’d been expecting her to ask for money all along, except suddenly I wasn’t ready for it. Cindy was no longer a random email in my spam folder. She was a person on the other end of the line, asking for help. It was suddenly hard to just say “no”.

Instead, I beat around the bush like a coward. I pretended I had a friend whom I’d told about Cindy, and the friend suggested Cindy might be a scammer. Cindy acted outraged at the suggestion, and our conversation petered out, with me saying I couldn’t spare the money.

I Googled Senegal and discovered that almost 50% of its population lived in poverty. Who’s to say Cindy wasn’t being evicted? I thought. Right on cue, an email came from Cindy. “My life is not easy,” she said. “I am trying to survive as a responsible girl. I do not go out to sell my body like some other girls do here.”

I knew scammers rarely got arrested; it was a relatively safe crime. If one of the other options was sex work, I could see that chatting to amorous westerners on the internet would be more appealing. Could I blame her for what she was doing? I felt like a jerk for stringing her along.

I decided to write an email, from the real me, to the real Cindy. I intended to tell her a bit about me, but I found myself telling her a lot. I told her my family came to Australia when the war in Yugoslavia began, and that my dad died when I was a child. I wrote that when we moved to Australia, my parents never thought we’d be split up again, yet I’d voluntarily moved to New York City, and I felt guilty. I said I felt lonely and friendless.

I wasn’t sure why I told Cindy all this, but in hindsight I think it was because I wanted her to like me. And as I wrote, I found myself tearing up. I told her I didn’t blame her for being a scammer, and that I wanted her to be honest with me. I said that if she told me about her real life, about scamming, I would find some money to send her.

She wrote back ignoring most of what I said, emphasizing that she was not a scammer – and including her Western Union details. I felt a pang of annoyance and embarrassment for opening up to her. Did she think I was an idiot? Cindy and I went back and forth playing this game: me offering money for the truth, and Cindy feigning ignorance. We were at an impasse.

Finally, Cindy snapped. She called me a wicked, selfish woman. She said she never wanted to hear from me again. And for the first time in a long time, my computer went silent.

After Cindy dumped me, I felt like I understood Bill better. He knew in the back of his mind he was being scammed, but he chose to keep going so he wouldn’t end up where I was. Bill had made excuses for his scammer, just like I’d made excuses for Cindy.

It reminded me one of those bad relationships where you’re willing to overlook so much because you don’t want to be alone.

Romance scams, I decided, weren’t about being tricked by someone, they were about tricking yourself – telling yourself lies, to keep loneliness at bay.

…read more

Source: TheGuardian

Thanks CNN Money, Straits Times, Guardian and for reading Dating Love Romance Scams

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Dr Don
Founder/Admin The Internet Crime Fighters Org, Admin DrDony's Reviews, http://drdonysreviews.com, Author The Internet Users Handbook, See more http://about.me/drdony
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  1. Reply

    The cruellest of scams’: Victims of dating scams not reporting incidents, ACCC says http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-02/victims-of-dating-scams-not-reporting-incidents-accc-says/8318036

      • dorothy
      • May 8, 2017


      1. Reply

        Thank you, Dorothy, for your comments and valuable advice. Pleased that you were able to find help and take action to save yourself. Would you please elaborate on this Cyber Service Investigation Team for our readers?

  2. Reply
  3. Reply

    Online Dating Relationship Scams Woman in Chantilly: Police A woman met a man on Facebook and began dating him online, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. She sent him money. Bad idea. https://patch.com/virginia/chantilly/online-dating-relationship-scams-woman-chantilly-police

  4. Reply
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    5 Students Who Allegedly Defraud American Women Through Romance Scam Arrested. Photo http://nationalcybersecurity.com/5-students-who-allegedly-defraud-american-women-through-romance-scam-arrested-photo/

  6. Reply
  7. Reply
  8. Reply

    How to Avoid a “Sweetheart Scam” http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam

  9. Reply

    Widow Gets Scammed by Phony Boyfriend. What started on a dating site ended with a $1 million loss. Financial fraud and abuse of older people is a huge and often unreported problem. Losses have been estimated at about $36 billion a year. And partly because of the embarrassment of being exploited, only 1 in 44 victims report their losses, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association. http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2017/widow-scammed-by-boyfriend-fd.html

  10. Reply

    Nowra Rotarians discover ‘if it’s too good to be true, it generally is’ http://www.southcoastregister.com.au/story/4590153/dating-and-romance-top-scam-list/

  11. Reply

    Cheated hearts, empty pockets: online dating scams in Hong Kong and abroad. Cases include victim transferring money to ease supposed lover’s financial difficulties http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2087761/cheated-hearts-empty-pockets-online-dating-scams-hong-kong

  12. Reply

    Hong Kong’s gender imbalance and marriage pressure blamed for rise in online dating scams
    Alarming new figures show 114 cases of online dating fraud last year, costing victims a total of HK$95 million http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/2087752/hong-kongs-gender-imbalance-and-marriage-pressure

  13. Reply

    Virtual lover scams Norfolk resident out of real money Dating/romance scam nets $850 https://www.norfolknews.ca/news-story/7253230-virtual-lover-scams-norfolk-resident-out-of-real-money/

  14. Reply

    The Simple Secret To Getting 5x More Matches On Dating Apps http://elitedaily.com/dating/more-matches-dating-apps-secret/1821875/

  15. Reply

    INTERPOL Operation Sweeps Up Thousands of Cybercrime Servers Used for Ransomware, DDoS, Spam. Massive public-private ‘cyber surge’ in Asia identifies hundreds of compromised websites in operation that spans multiple cybercriminal groups, activities. http://www.darkreading.com/threat-intelligence/interpol-operation-sweeps-up-thousands-of-cybercrime-servers-used-for-ransomware-ddos-spam/d/d-id/1328725

    • Nalini
    • April 27, 2017

    Is there a Chinese website for old man scammed by young china ladies? For older folks cannot understand English.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for the question. Posted in the hope that someone else can help.

      I would try Google translations for alternative to Enlish

      Not sure if you were a victim? Or how to Help, so I started here

      Googled your question, “Is there a Chinese website for old man scammed by young china ladies?” and “reporting a Chinese website for old man scammed by young china ladies?” with the following results:

      Quick guide to Asian dating scams http://romancescamsnow.com/dating-scams/quick-guide-to-asian-dating-scams/

      China Love Fraud Breaks Plenty Of Hearts… https://chinascampatrol.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/china-love-fraud-breaks-plenty-of-hearts/

      ChnLove reviews https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.chnlove.com

      Avoiding common tourist scams in China http://www.china-mike.com/china-travel-tips/avoiding-scams/

      Common Scams in China http://www.chinatravelsavvy.com/advice/scams/

      Thanks for bring up the question and how we may help your further?

  16. Reply

    Technology and tips to avoid the dark side on online dating http://www.wxyz.com/news/technology-and-tips-to-avoid-the-dark-side-on-online-dating

  17. Reply

    Online Dating Scams on the Rise Cybersleuth Investigations, Inc. provides tips on how to avoid online dating scams. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/04/prweb14269976.htm

  18. Reply

    ‘Tough to catch’ scam artists dupe $70,000 out of Cobourg in 2016. COBOURG — Det. Const. Kyle Tobin investigates fraud for the Cobourg Police Service. His client’s first mistake was opening a “strange” email. The second mistake was trusting it. https://www.northumberlandnews.com/news-story/7223619–tough-to-catch-scam-artists-dupe-70-000-out-of-cobourg-in-2016/

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    £570k fraud hell of dating site victims as cops warn it’s tip of the iceberg Fears over rise in online romance cheats as Scots police launch 25 investigations since January into scams worth over half a million pounds. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/570k-fraud-hell-dating-site-10463327

  21. Reply

    Trio behind dating site scams get 235 years in jail as ‘millions’ defrauded The men were running “romance scams” in which they would gain the affection of victims.http://news.sky.com/story/trio-behind-dating-site-scams-get-235-years-in-jail-as-millions-defrauded-10893896

  22. Reply
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    Scammers ‘Catfished’ And Defrauded Boot Marines In Online Dating Scam http://taskandpurpose.com/scammers-catfished-defrauded-boot-marines-online-dating-scam/

  24. Reply

    VictoriaHearts Encourages Other Dating Sites to Fight against Scammers http://www.dekhnews.com/victoriahearts-encourages-other-dating-sites-to-fight-against-scammers/

  25. Reply


    FBI Looking for Love? Beware of Online Dating Scams https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/sandiego/press-releases/2013/looking-for-love-beware-of-online-dating-scams

    Online daters, be warned! 1 in 10 profiles are scams, report reveals http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/30/online-dating-scam/

    Romance Scams Now http://romancescamsnow.com/

    Welcome to Romance Scam! Dedicated to fighting Nigerian and Russian romance scammers. http://www.romancescam.com/

    ONLINE DATING: A woman’s heartbreaking warning http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/online-dating-a-womans-heartbreaking-warning-why-y/3069861/

    wiki How to Avoid Internet Dating Scams http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Internet-Dating-Scams

    Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/faking-it-scammers-tricks-steal-your-heart-and-money

    FBI Warns of Online Dating Scams https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/sandiego/news/press-releases/fbi-warns-of-online-dating-scams

    Romance scams Dating or romance fraud is when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-romance-scams

    Welcome to Romance Scams http://romancescams.org/

    Dating & romance https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/dating-romance

    The Ins and Outs of Online Love Scams http://www.informationsecuritybuzz.com/articles/ins-outs-online-love-scams/

    • July 17, 2017

    I was recently scammed by a RICHARD WALKER ,whom I fell in love with for over 13months, he took all my savings and loans ,lost my house and car in the process, he keeps asking for more money to come see me and things from where he is keeps coming up, claimed to live in OK and Michigan and went to both addresses nobody has seen the person before, went to the army he serving ,they have no record of him, i was more than devastated when he continued with the story after I caught him, in a bid to recover my hard earn money I contacted the FbI, who later gave me a tutoring I was catfished in a love scam and there was little to nothing they could do about it, was able to hire a private eye who helped hired HACKWIZatPROTONMAILdotCOM who was able to trace my suppose born in Michigan Major to west Africa, he was able to get access to All his personal life and mail and after he threatened him to with Interpol and South African authorities he was able to pay back $62630 ,still reported him his government after,this was a lot from where I was.if you’re going through this get help and get your funds back.you can thank me later.

    1. Reply

      Thank you, Susan, for your story. Happy you were able to recover something. Hopefully, your story will reach and help others

  26. Reply

    The Internet opens up opportunities for scammers too. I have been tried to be tricked a couple of times so I know about some tricks. At one time pre-paid cards were the trick – the girl I was talking to said I should upload his phone card to be able to chat with her. This was typical 15 years ago but still a form of a scam. Today they have more sophisticated one, of course.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for your comment and participation here

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