What I try to understand most is how one can press the send button and off goes thousands of dollars to a stranger in a strange land. Sounds unreal, it is not, and the amounts of money I see going from victim to scammer is mind-boggling. Do not press the send button in your bank account without knowing the dangers.
It is one thing to lend money to your sister, brother, mother, father, son, or daughter. There is no reason in the world why you should ever give or send money to a stranger. Let us clarify stranger, someone you met on the internet, communicate with on the internet or by mobile text. Someone who claims they work on an oil rig, a soldier, deployed, a business professional in some foreign land. Someone you never met in person or never had a video conversation with for more than ten minutes.
If your online mate gives you the name of someone in Nigeria, Ghana, or Turkey to transfer or send money by Western Union, it is a scam. No ifs, and, or buts, the person is scamming you. One of the things your online mate will never do is have you send money in their name. Why? Because the name is fake! Do not press the send button; there is a strong possibility you may never see your money again.
If someone on the internet requests money, they are probably a dating fraud.
A recent romance scam I came across is the gold bar scam. A client met a man on POF, and they began an online relationship. He claimed he was an oil rig operator somewhere off the coast of Oman. The scammer promised that he would soon visit, and they would spend their life together.
The week before the scammer was to arrive, he contacted the client and stated there was an emergency, and he had to go out to sea. He asked if he could ship her a package. He admitted there were cash and other valuables in the box.
The following day a shipping company contacts the victim; the scammer forgot to pay for the shipment. With a tracking number and website, she found the package in Dubai. There was a duty, customs, excise, handling, and shipping fee totaling $2800.00. Unable to contact the scammer, she paid.
If you are sent a request to pay the shipping cost for an online mate, take time, and research the website. One trick is to copy and paste sections of the website into search engines. If the site is fake, the original website will show. Search the various pages, do they all work? Call the phone number on the website, is it a company or a mobile voice mailbox.
The following day the Dubai Security Service contacted the victim and informed her that they are holding the package. The alleged contents, twenty-thousand in cash, and three gold bars. A lawyer was needed, and the security service referred to one.
The lawyer explained that she and her mate were in big trouble for trying to ship the gold. The security service will arrest the mate once his ship comes to shore, and they will hand over her case to the authorities in her country. However, the lawyer had a solution; she could pay a fine of ten thousand dollars.
If a lawyer, barrister or solicitor contacts you, the first action is to search the governing body that licenses such professions. If you get a name match, call them and confirm the matter is legitimate. Many scammers will use real names of local lawyers; however, they deviate the email addresses. Many use consultant.com, mail.com, post.com, and other generic addresses.
The internet is a world of lies and filled with scammers, schemers, fakes, and frauds. Therefore, act accordingly and create boundaries for engagement. The first boundary is to recognize the person you are chatting with is an unidentified stranger. If the person creates excuses to avoid a video conversation, say goodbye. If asked for money, say goodbye. It is better to be rude than to lose your life savings.
A client sent over photos of a woman he met on a dating site. She was upscale, wore stylish clothes, and pictured in all parts of the world, a professional type. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate her photos on the internet, but her face looked familiar.
Besides, a few Western Union payments and an iPhone sent to a house in a far-off city, there was not much to go. So, I looked up the address on Google Earth; the house was rundown, and the neighborhood distressed, not matching the appearance of the woman. Always look up the address on Google Earth.
Many victims of online dating do not dial the number given to them by the fraudster. In this case, the number was not in service, which is a red flag. Many scammers manipulate phone numbers on WhatsApp, therefore what is displayed is not always accurate. If you do dial a number and someone answers listen to the accent, can you place?
Back to the woman in the images, while sitting with a friend, I asked if they recognized the person. She did, it was the American television chef Laura Vitale. Imagine that, a scammer using the face of someone famous. Not uncommon in the online dating scam world.
Scammers use pics of people in countries, the victim, is not familiar. That is why one fraudster used the photos of David Chocarro, an Argentine athlete and actor on a victim in Germany. I had a challenging time identifying David, so I right clicked the photo, clicked properties, and copied the file name. Then I pasted the file name into a search engine; sometimes I get a hit sometimes I don't. I found David on a tabloid website.
Because a person sends you a photo, it does not mean it is them. Anyone can download any picture from the internet. Anyone can claim they are in the military, working on an oil rig or a doctor working for the UN. Anyone can say anything; it does not mean it is the truth.
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