The strategy Romance scammers use to control their victims, is to keep the relationship in the digital world. A world where email, text, and chat rule. It is where scammers avoid phone and video conversations at all costs.
"Sorry, love, the phone camera is broken."
"The oil rig company does not allow videoing."
"My mission is top secret, so I cannot use a video."
"I am shy and do not feel comfortable on video."
The world of digital love is full of excuses; the word cannot rules. When it comes to a simple phone call, it will be unintelligible. There will be noise, crackling, and interruptions, which avoids you hearing a clear voice and accent.
If you plan to engage in online dating, once you meet a potential, take it offline. Insist on video chats where you can see a face clearly, lips move, and sound coming from their mouth. No sarcasm here, some scammers hold photos to their faces and shake the mobile. Demand a clear phone conversation, some will play an American or UK TV show in the background to give the impression they are in the states or England. One scammer played the TV show The Office on a large screen behind him and claimed he was at work.
If you remain in the digital world of love and do not step out into the real world of humans, you will be victimized one way or another. Keep in mind that you are not dating but merely chatting, texting, and emailing a stranger, nothing more.
In the past two weeks, the clients who have contacted me have sent nearly two-hundred thousand euros to scammers worldwide. Do not become a victim of a romance scam, or allow anyone to keep your relationship in the digital world.
Romance scams are not limited to victims sending money. Some scammers involve victims in the crime and have them launder the stolen funds.
First, the scammer sets the stage that they are working overseas or deployed in the military. They send a link to their fake bank account along with a login and password. It will appear to have a balance with thousands of dollars or euros.
The swindler will claim a disaster has occurred. They will tell you that a piece of machinery broke and they are in need of fifty thousand dollars, and would it be okay is their business partner wire transfers money into your account. Or they will state they need money to pay the military, to visit you. If you agree to accept cash, in a matter of time hundreds of thousands of dollars will hit your account.
Recently, a client wired transferred ninety-six thousand euros to a bank account in the US. I tracked the person who received the money, and she explained that the man she met online and fell in love with asked her to accept funds. The scammer directed her to wire the money to a variety of accounts all over the world. Eventually, her bank froze her accounts and the authorities stepped in and questioned her. She was waiting to hear if the law believed she was a victim or not.
Under no circumstance should you ever receive money from a stranger. Perhaps you think the man you are involved with is not a stranger; you are wrong. If you met a person on the internet and never seen them in person, they are a stranger. It does not matter if they tell you they love you, or send you dozens of photos or have a Facebook or Internet page. All you are doing is talking to an unknown stranger.
If you met or plan to date online create some boundaries. The second the word money comes up in conversation, say goodbye.
Scam Guru identifies romance scammers, get help now.
Frank M. Ahearn educates victims on romance scams.
He is the author of the New York Times Best Seller How to Disappear.
Email Addresss: ID@Scam.Guru