Online Scammers Breaking Hearts and Bank Accounts
Today’s online romance scams are run by organized rings that account for the highest financial losses of all internet crimes in the U.S.
All of these scams follow a similar pattern of building trust with the victim and slowly bleeding money out of them. Scammers often work in teams, with one person acting as the fake lover, and other members assisting with the storyline of why the fake lover needs money.
HuffPost interviewed multiple victims of these online scams. A Texas woman met a man online with whom she bonded with over Christianity. The scammer called himself “Charlie” and they would often pray together online. When he first asked her for money, it seemed like an urgent situation. He promised to pay her back as soon as he was able.
“I prayed about it. I’ve always been a very giving person, and I figured if I had money … I could send him some.”
That’s how she lost first $30,000. Total losses would accumulate to over $2 million.
The odds of recovering money lost is very low. Interpol reports that some of the money ends up in the hands of terrorists.
The victimization doesn’t end there. Military men and doctors are prime targets for identity theft to con these women. When therapist Dr. Steve Jones’ phone was stolen, scammers used his identity and photos to do just that. To this day he receives several notifications a week from women who either want their money back or want to reconnect romantically.
Using fake profiles on online dating sites and social networks, scammers seek out the lonely and the vulnerable. They promise love and marriage and build enough trust for the victims to let down their guards. Once victims send money, scammers put their names on a “sucker list. Those names and identities are often sold to other criminals.
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