Catch Of The Week: Romance Scams

Scampup

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Catch Of The Week: Romance Scams


It’s almost Valentine’s Day; don’t get your heart (and wallet) broken by an online romance scam.

According to news reports out of Portland, Ore., a romance scammer recently robbed an 80-year-old widower out of $200,000. The man was swindled by an unknown scammer who stole a Florida woman’s identity, then befriended the man through an online dating site.

The scammer then convinced him to invest money in a “business opportunity”. The scammer convinced the man they were in a long-distance relationship, and then persuaded him to support an art gallery in Florida by pretending to seek investors to cover transportation costs to ship a 500-ton marble sculpture of a lion from China.

According to the scammer, the man would remake his investment, plus a profit after the sculpture sold. The man made multiple payments over five months totaling more than $200,000. He lost the entire investment, and investigators have been unable to track the scammer down.

Like so many other online scams, romance scams are growing, and according to new FTC data, the number of romance scams reported by victims has nearly tripled since 2015. The total amount of money people reported losing to this scam in 2019 is six times higher than it was five years ago – $33 million lost to romance scammers in 2015, up to $201 million in 2019. Ouch, love truly bites!

Romance scammers usually start by stealing someone else’s identity to create a profile. Once they get you reeled in and talking to them, they will send you flattering messages and try to connect with you and gain your trust.

Commonly, they will claim to be a doctor, soldier, or oil rig worker living overseas. They really want to make plans to visit you, but then something comes up, and they need money or gift cards to “help them out”. Never send money or gifts to someone you have never actually met; it’s a romance scam.
Full article here: https://ladailypost.com/catch-of-the-week-romance-scams/

Mirror here: https://medium.com/@iHeartMalware/catch-of-the-week-romance-scams-aed41525d036
 

Scampup

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From Australia:


How this scam works
Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact. They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. These scams are also known as ‘catfishing’.

Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure you in. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.

Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging. They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas.

Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come.

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

Scampup

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aka

A fool and their money are easily parted
These scams are extremely sophisticated to create that illusion. The grooming period may easily last up to 18 months.

In these, fake business profiles are commonly used. Associated websites are extremely common, but most traditional ITSec will not recognise them. Compare a veterinarian found on two websites:

vet1.jpg

vet2.jpg

Dr Takashiro has such a kind heart ... until he asks for help and money. It's nothing more than a stolen foto on a fake website. Notice how the one website's hidden.

Did you know this @MirageF1?

It's easy to victim blame, call these people fools. Reality shows oncologists, teachers, academics and all kinds of successful business owners are regular victims. So we can't label them as fools. But please, let's rather watch out, educate and warn.
 

MirageF1

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These scams are old as the internet itself.

They've been around for decades...

Who the F gives away their entire life savings to someone online they have never met.

Only a fool.


Did you know this @Scampup ?
 

Scampup

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These scams are old as the internet itself.

They've been around for decades...

Who the F gives away their entire life savings to someone online they have never met.

Only a fool.


Did you know this @Scampup ?
Really? I'm shocked.
Why then does no vendor that "protects your online security presence" not protect against them? Tbh, not one, unless they mistake one for phishing?

Yes, they have been online since the start of the net, but they have evolved beyond your imagination. That's how BEC has grown into it's current form. Do you understand the links between BEC and these?
 

Gozado

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Of the four victims I know, three are men: one a retired tradesman, one an IT expert and the third a brilliant academic. They each met their scam perpetrator in Real Life, one while the victim was on holiday in another country, and the other two perpetrators were on holiday in the country of the victim. So they said.

The mechanisms in each case were similar, and remarkably similar to the online version. Grooming, conveying a sense of wonder that they (the perp) was being treated so respectfully by the victim (given my sad past), lots of affirmation that this felt like The One despite the differences in culture, age, race or social standing. Then urgent family matters called them away, late-night desperate calls, then contact completely broken off (during which the victim is waiting at home, worried about the perp's safety, or family's health, etc.), at long last renewed contact by phone or mail, and a "lover's tiff" about who was most hurt at the gap in contact or who was neglecting whom and don't you trust me yet, then fond reassurances of love and the intention to be together again soon. Repeat.

It took a long time before money was ever a topic, then with huge gratitude and promises to repay, then perhaps a second visit, great cooking, perhaps great sex, many confirmations about our future together, then a message about a sick relative who needs the costs of the operation, or a threat from bad people that the perp can't explain to the victim because you won't understand or they are so strong and are trying to get me into their control, professed yearning to be together while the difficulties of life keep us apart, but we shall overcome and be together, because we know we're meant for each other. Further request for money, towards our future, to go ahead and start building the house for us, or to start up our little café. Repeat.

Then perp disappears into thin air, or, in one case, writes a contrite mail saying she couldn't be in contact any more and can't explain, she knows that will hurt him, but promising that one day, one day, she would return to pay everything back. Nevermore.

In each of the cases the victim was emotionally shaken to the core, and it took a great deal of inner strength, and support from other friends, for them to rebuild their self-concept. They were seduced and duped, yes, carefully played by the perp who handpicked them according to their vulnerabilities and succeptibiliy, but I wouldn't call any one of them a fool.
 

MirageF1

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Fool/fantasist/dreamer/unrealistic/desperate

Call it what you want.

Just because you are an academic doesn't disqualify you as emotionally retarded.
 

Scampup

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Of the four victims I know, three are men: one a retired tradesman, one an IT expert and the third a brilliant academic. They each met their scam perpetrator in Real Life, one while the victim was on holiday in another country, and the other two perpetrators were on holiday in the country of the victim. So they said.
Eastern Europe or Russia? This is quite common in syndicates there. We see something similar in Northern America, but originates from Eastern Europe.
 

Gozado

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Eastern Europe or Russia? This is quite common in syndicates there. We see something similar in Northern America, but originates from Eastern Europe.
Countries involved in those cases were in North Africa, Central Africa, and in Western Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
 

ForceFate

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I know someone who almost fell for it. SO suspects the perp is someone who knew her circumstances. They met on tinder and soon exchanged contacts. The guy groomed her. He came up with good excuses each time they had to meet (travelling, busy, etc).
 

Scampup

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One the the main reason this has grown is under-reporting. One of the reasons for that is the social stigma and victim blaming. This is not limited by age or sex either.
 

Scampup

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That Carte Blanche clip was both heartbreaking and frustrating to watch.
You feel for these people but how can you be so stupid.
That is the illusion I referred to. It's like a drug where you are led on. Once you're out of it, you acknowledge it.

Cassandra Cross has done a lot of work on exactly this. It brews down to how humans are wired. Google her.
 

Gozado

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That Carte Blanche clip was both heartbreaking and frustrating to watch. You feel for these people but how can you be so stupid.
Opportunity knocks at well-prepared doors. The perpetrators of such scams are experts and filtering out the smart, strong, confident people, and honing in on the vulnerable.

This is a different, and much more intensive, type of scam from the random spam mail which claims that you've won or inherited these or those dollars, or should please help out someone else who has so inherited but cannot, themselves, claim their rightful place in the turbulence of their own country, and you should first pay a sum to the intermediary attorney, and then megabucks will rain down upon you.

One of the women on that Carte Blanche clip was a widow out of a marriage in which she had been very happy, and that marriage had also involved her and her husband's role in an organisation. When he died, she lost both of those. One of the men I knew who feel for a trickster was in a different but comparably situation: his partner had taken ill and after some years died, leaving him shortly before his retirement age, but facing it all alone, and stung by the absence of the dreams they had shared.

In both cases, the respective perpetrators built up a relationship first. Having a pen-pal, way before the internet, right up to what forum users do, are ways of building connections even though we may never meet. We know compassion to strangers, and are moved and grateful when they care about how we are and the problems we face and try to offer solutions (even just about very practical matters, not only about romance). This, indeed, is the very magic of a forum. Entering into a one-to-one conversation on a forum is not so rare, either, and one can begin to be really interested in how someone else is doing. When a perpetrator focuses on that, and malevolently selects someone whose Real Life has become wobbly or has even crashed down, and works them with apparent concern and counsel... then it is not so difficult, after all, to see how it can feel like the connection is real.

As to the money, well, millions of people all over the world donate to charities, and to crowd-funding of random people who claim to have a need. Those who donate either truly believe the blurb about the need and how much their contribution will help, or else they take a considered risk and say: "Oh, well, they might be telling the truth, they might be lying, but it won't hurt me to donate this R50 here."

"After all," such donors reason, "if I were in the situation they're facing, I'd be so grateful if someone would help me. And I remember when I was in difficulty, how those and those people, kind strangers, lifted me up."

In the scams, it is often only after six months, a year or even much longer that any request for money arrives. The trick lies in the victim's being kept in the illusion that this is the real, perhaps the one-and-only, extra-special connection. In one of the cases I know, the scammer entertained just enough of an apparent relationship, with lots of phonecalls of professing longing, and even the occasional visit in Real Life, enough to keep the victim interested and emotionally invested, and she did that successfully for over four years while she waited for a certain lump-sum payment that she'd found out was due to him... and then she pounced, and disappeared with it all.

Dating sites, formal matchmakers, meet-up groups, Real Life clubs and networking events are all about the hope that maybe we might just find a good match, for our project, or shared interest, for for love.

The more lonely and alone a victim is, the more he/she has suffered and lost and the greater the need they feel for something good to come along at last, the bigger their compassionate heart, and most especially the fewer people they have, has to discuss the matter with and do a reality check, the more succeptible such a victim can be to a person who appears to be offering love.
 
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