Online Dating Scam: ‘Military Guy’ Steals Widow’s Heart and Nearly $500,000

Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal. What’s especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U. The scammers are exploiting people’s good intentions toward our men and women in uniform, and exploit their goodwill. Not only does this kind of fraud hurt the victim, but it damages the reputation of the United States Military member. Foreign victims often fall for the scam, and really do think a U. Someone who pretends to be a sailor, soldier, airman, or Marine looking for love but really is looking for cash will count on you not investigating them too deeply. This is where you can get the upper hand.

New Jersey man scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating sites, prosecutors say

Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people—and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families.

In fact, online dating fraud rose by % in a year from , with criminals recognising the opportunities to exploit those looking for a partner.

While many of us are trained to see the red flags for serial killers, catfishes and ghosts in that order , these are not the only villains lurking online for would-be matches. Scam artists are thinking of ways to woo you into sending them thousands—or millions of dollars. This is becoming such a problem in the U. In fact, romance scams continue to rise every year as more victims report financial losses. Romance scams rely on meeting people online and wooing them with lofty promises and by saying all the right things.

They prey on the basic human need for romantic connections. For this reason, romance scams can be some of the most difficult scams to rebound from. Romance scams are, arguably, the worst scam that a victim can endure.

Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance

Since the large adoption of the internet, the online dating industry moved to set a new standard in the way we find our soulmates. And it worked. According to a study from the University of Chicago, compared to marriages between couples who meet in real life, marriages between couples whose relationships are formed through an online dating site are more likely to last. Unfortunately, with the rise of online dating services came the birth of romance scams. Romance scams target wealthy women, sometimes widows, who are looking for a new relationship and men who are looking for extra-marital relationships.

The scammer and the victim meet online – often through Internet dating or However, before they do, he must travel overseas to serve his country in the military.

Embassy Kabul frequently receives inquiries from people who have been victimized by Internet scammers. These scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money by developing a friendship, romance or business partnership online, and then exploiting that relationship to ask for money. The most common scam we see involves calls, texts, or social media messages Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, dating apps, etc from a person claiming be a U.

Armed Forces, a military contractor, a U. Embassy diplomat, or an employee of an international aid organization. These con artists are very convincing and troll the Internet for potential victims, spending weeks or months to build a relationship. Scammers can be very clever and deceptive, creating sad and believable stories that will make you want to send them money. After the person receives the money, they disappear and do not respond to messages. The U. Embassy strongly cautions against sending money to persons whom you have not met personally prior to their purported travel to Afghanistan.

For actual emergencies involving a U. Embassy American Citizen Services section for assistance. Footer Disclaimer This is the official website of the U. Embassy in Afghanistan.

Avoiding Scams – Send Money / Bitcoin

AARP Rewards is here to make your next steps easy, rewarding and fun! Learn more. Hundreds of times a day, women here and overseas complain about being scammed by con artists posing as U.

If your online crush exhibits one or more of the following red flags of an online fraud schemes using fake online profiles of U.S. military personnel. Against Romance Scams, post messages from scammers that victims have shared. fraud dissuade you from checking out the online dating scene, but do.

On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few.

Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts. For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market.

Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes.

ARMY SOCIAL MEDIA

Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of reports a month from individuals who have fallen victim to a scam perpetrated by a person impersonating a U. Soldier online. Soldier who then began asking for money for various false service-related needs. Victims of these scams can lose tens of thousands of dollars and face a slim likelihood of recovering any of it.

Military Romance Scams. 48K likes. This page was created to warn facebook users about military romance scams and how the identities of our honorably.

Weeks later, the U. Department of Justice DOJ filed charges against 80 members of an organized international criminal network composed primarily of Nigerians dedicated to romance fraud and several other cyber schemes. Even more recently, in early September, the DOJ announced the arrest of a New Jersey man for his involvement in a separate international criminal network that defrauded more than 30 victims in romance fraud schemes using fake online profiles of U. The suspect allegedly carried out the scheme with help from co-conspirators in Ghana.

Many of these types of fraudsters feature common characteristics that anyone looking for love on the internet should know. One of the most common romance fraud schemes in recent years involves impersonators using images of U. Sometimes these requests are for gift cards or prepaid debit cards, assistance with medical bills for family members, or funds to pay for international round-trip airfare for a first meeting with the victim. In the case involving the New Jersey man mentioned above, fraudsters pretending to be U.

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, allow users to search the internet for an image such as a profile picture. If a reverse image search turns up multiple profiles with different names that all share the same profile picture, chances are their intentions are less than sincere. Repeated excuses of emergencies that prevent a quick, live conversation should be a major red flag of a romance scam.

How I catfished my catfisher: a W5 investigation into romance scams

Earlier this year, 10 people located around the United States were arrested and charged in an organized money laundering scheme as they were attempting to wash the cash that they illegally obtained. What was strange about the scheme is how the money was obtained in the first place. It wasn’t through the trading or trafficking of illegal goods or drugs, but rather cash that was sent by unsuspecting women who thought they were building relationships with the scammers.

This type of thing happens more often than you might think. These types of schemes are known as romance scams, and while there is no shortage of scams online, few are more devastating. That makes it all the more painful when the rug is pulled out from under them and the scammers make off with their income or savings.

Tips for Avoiding Romance Scams: Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better.

Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. 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.

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. 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. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature. Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency.

ACFE Insights

Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars.

There were 3, reports, and losses of a record £39m. It was thought that women were the main targets for online-dating scammers. But men are.

Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery.

The U. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes. See examples of fake documents used by scammers. There are a variety of words and phrases used by scammers to hook unsuspecting men and women into relationships.

Here are some examples:. Scammers tend to use similar stories to convince men and women that they have a legitimate need. Here are common answers to those questions:. Never send money.

Men used in Military Romance Scams July 2017


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