When I reveal my findings to a client that the person they have been chatting with, and even fallen in love with is not the person in the photos, behind the phone number or the identity in the passport, despair rings loud. Many thoughts and emotions rage through victims, but some find it challenging to face the facts.
A woman from Zurich met a man while online dating, a widower living in New York with his young son. He traveled extensively to China because of his engineering business. They hit it off quickly, and the digital relationship moved forward.
Even though they never met or chatted by video, she fell in love, and they talked of her moving to his Park Avenue apartment in New York, which meant her giving up her design business and selling her home. You are wondering how one falls in love with someone they never met or even seen on video. It happens all the time in a romance scam; it is part of the manipulation by convincing the victim that they are in a long-distance relationship, not an online or digital one.
A problem developed with the Chinese factory and the scammer asked the victim for sixty-thousand euros. She was quick to aide him; he was her future. Then the scammer told her the Chinese police detained him because of unpaid taxes, and they will not allow him to access his bank account. The scammer sent her a link to his bank, login, and password. The balance read just under four million dollars. She tried to make the transfer from his account to China, but security features would not allow her. Note, scammers create fake bank websites, with logins, and impressive balances. Remember, you can't always believe what you see.
After learning of his net worth, she had no doubt he was a man of means and transferred one-hundred-eighty-thousand euros into a Chinese bank account. He kept pushing for more money; he suggested she sell her home as quickly as possible and move to his place in New York. He even had a friend send her a first-class plane ticket, which proved fake. It wasn't long until someone made an offer on the apartment; also an associate agreed to buy out the business.
The client sent me his passport, which I noticed as a fake immediately. In the photo, he wore glasses, which can only be allowed for medical reasons. I showed the client that the bank was fake and the name, a deviation of a real bank. Even more crushing for the client, I searched the address in New York; he did not own the apartment nor rent. The proof of his falsehoods drifted on down the page. She was devastated by the deception and could not believe the man she loved a broken heart, and stole her money.
She confronted the swindler, and he denied all I revealed. He sent her a photo of a check for the total amount she lent him but first needed her to send the bank a payment 10% as a bond for them to release the money. The offer posed a considerable conflict. What if everything I told her was incorrect. She thought, what if she paid the ten percent, she might get her money back. Unfortunately, what-ifs do not work in the world of online scams, only facts ring true. Even with the abundance of evidence proving the scammer was a fake, she sent twenty-four-thousand euros. He then vanished.
Facing the truth that a swindler broke your heart and stole your money is beyond horrible. However, you must find the strength, to be honest, and trust in the facts — not the words of someone who has a motive to keep you in the dark. Sure it is easier said than done, but you have no choice but to be strong and take control of the situation. As dreadful as all is, you can and will get past it in time.
Many of the victims I encounter feel relief after the fact. Yes, financial times are confusing, but there is freedom, and relief felt. They no longer live in a fake world, strung by hope from a dark stranger who sucks them dry emotionally. With this, I say, have faith that the tight time will eventually be in your rear-view.
Overcoming A Romance Scam - Telling a client that the person they are involved with or even in love with is a fake; devastates them. When it sinks in, and they realize that a romance scammer betrayed their heart, as well as their trust and stole their life savings, it is a blow one cannot even begin to imagine. Trying to reckon with these facts is painful, and some hold on to a faint spark of hope that I am incorrect in my findings. Unfortunately, I am not when it comes to romance scams. In fact, every person I searched turned out to be a fraud.
When I reveal the truth because the passport is fake, or the photos appear online under a different identity, victims come back with what if's. What if the person they are dating is the real person in the picture, they never are. What if they are telling the truth and their mobile phone camera is broke? They could use a friend's video to prove their identity, but they never do. What if's are what if's and nothing more, facts tell the truth.
If you are dating an unknown person online, you could be the victim of a romance scam. You owe it to yourself to know the truth and protect your interest. A life saving does not come easy but can go quickly if involved with the wrong person. Therefore, if you are wondering, questioning, or even feeling an ounce of maybe something is off, you are probably correct. A good start is demanding a video conversation and them not making an excuse. If they do, you have a problem.
There are fake hackers targeting victims of romance scams. A client hired someone claiming he could hack into scammers' information and trace her stolen funds. Twenty-four hours later, the client received a picture of what the hacker claimed to be a bitcoin blockchain. He said it belonged to the scammer; and guaranteed recovery of 100% of her funds.
The victim was directed to open a bitcoin wallet and purchase five-thousand euros of bitcoin. Then send the hacker the bitcoin, and after receipt of payment, the hacker would complete the hack and transfer her hundred thousand euros. Before sending off the five-thousand, the client asked me if what the hacker told her was possible; were they legitimate. I doubted the claim.
The client supplied the hacker with a name and Western Union transaction number in Nigeria. The hacker said he traced the cash transaction and miraculously located a hundred grand. Think about that, a man walks into a Western Union, receives cash, steps out, and the hacker tracers paper currency to digital currency. I think not!
The moral of the story here is, when the scam ends, it is never really over. Therefore, be cautious with whom you request help.
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