General Information on the Romance Scam
While there is some information about these scams that is accessible to the general public, it does not seem to be enough. The dating sites do give general warnings about them, as does Western Union and Moneygram. The FBI has a website specifically dedicated to reporting internet crimes (IC3) that also gives warnings and information. It is up to each individual to educate themselves and others in order to keep this crime from affecting more and more victims. While the dating sites warn of the dangers, they are still online businesses whose primary goal is to make money from the paying subscribers of the sites. Because of that they mainly do not screen subscribers. They will take a subscription fee as readily as they will take a legitimate user’s fee. Of course the scammers often pay for their dating site subscriptions using stolen credit cards but again this is also not checked by the online dating sites in general. While Facebook has a means of reporting profiles that you believe to be fake. Most dating sites allow you to report fraud and phony profiles also, but in many cases it may or may not help to get the scammers removed, since they often simply delete their profiles before they get caught and start over again with another phony profile quickly.
Scammers tend to use a “script” that is very much the same except they will adapt it towards their victim. Often this script involves someone who claims to be from your local area but somehow winds up having to leave for Nigeria for “business” and then wants to come home to be with you. Quickly they will fall “victim” to a number of almost totally unbelievable disasters, such as being arrested at customs, getting kidnapped or mugged, robbed or beaten and then suddenly they need money from you in order to help get them out of their predicament. Don’t fall for this. Very likely the person was never from or in your local area. They never were going to leave Nigeria (or whatever country they really are in) and they aren’t coming to live with or marry you. Many a heartbroken man or woman has waited at an airport sometimes repeatedly for a scammer who never showed. It is very much a psychological game they play and once you give them some money the disasters will get larger, and so will the amounts of money requested. They do NOT care if you go broke, borrow or steal from your friends, or wind up in the streets. They only want your money and they want as much of it as they can possibly get. Of importance to note is that the “military romance scam” has been very popular in recent years. This is when the scammer steals the photos of an American in the military, posing as being stationed overseas. Most of the active duty military stationed overseas are not online searching for love half a world away.
They Might Be A Scammer If…….
According to romancescams.org, if you can answer “yes” to any three of these guidelines relating to scammers, then the likelihood that you are in contact with one is very high.
When Contact is First Made
- They immediately want to get off the web site and onto Yahoo IM or MSN IM
- Their profile seems to disappear off the web site immediately after conversation begins
- They claim it was destiny or fate and you are meant to be together
- They immediately ask for your picture and they send you a picture of themselves
- They immediately want your address so as to send you flowers, candy, and teddy bears, often purchased with stolen credit cards
- They claim to love you either immediately or within 24-48 hours
- They immediately start using pet names with you: hon/hun baby/babe sweety/sweetie
- They claim God brought you to him/her
- They typically claim to be from the US (or your local region) but they are overseas, or going overseas mainly to Nigeria, sometimes the UK for business or family matters
- Their spelling is atrocious
- Their grammar is not consistent with how Americans speak, French speak etc.
- They appear uneducated with their speaking/writing skills
- They over-use emotions
- They are notorious for using BUZZ
- They are notorious for using “i” instead of “I”
- They consistently use web speak or abbreviations; u r ur cos pls/plz ma sry brb div
- They often mix up their phrases: “i” will like to heer from you soonest, I am kool, Do you have any man you care to meet, Do you have any man you planning to meet, Looking for someone to love and care for in life, Am cheerfull in life, I will like to meet someone that is careing and loveing for real in life, “i” am too young for my age if you don’t know, Ok so how will you feel if i says i dont mind you, i will like you to be my best friend, You are so pretty for my likeness
- They misunderstand our slang or comparisons such as night owl/early bird, poker face
- They are not usually around on the weekends to IM
- They IM at unusual hours for your time zone
- There are times they are gone from the conversation for a length of time and will sometimes come back at you with a different name, they’re usually conversing with more than one person at a time
- If you ask them a question they don’t know they will usually be offline for a length of time so they can go look up the answer on the internet always claiming they had a phone call or had to go to the bathroom etc.
- They like to send you poems or love letters, most of which can be traced back to lovingyou.com. Sometimes they even forget to change the name in the poem or letter to match your name
- They send you flowers, teddy bears, and candy within the first few weeks of talking
- They typically ask you to get on your web cam yet they never seem to have a web cam of their own
- They ask for your phone number but when they call you can barely understand a word they say because of their accent and back ground noise
- They may give you a phone number but it’s typically a calling card or a call center, you can rarely get them on the phone
- They do not like to answer personal questions about themselves and tend to ignore questions
- They often do not know the correct time difference between where you are and where they claim to be
- They often claim to have one parent that is of African descent
- A majority of them claim to have lost a spouse/child/parent in a horrific traffic accident or airplane accident or any of the above are sick or in the hospital
- They have no close family or friend or business associates to turn to, even the US embassy, instead they can only rely on a stranger they picked off the internet
- To them love equals financial assistance…if you do not send them money or help them out with what they ask, you do not love them
- If you deny them or question them they become verbally abusive and will resort to threats
- They will insist you keep the relationship a secret until “they” come to you live with you
- Above all, if you call them a scammer they are highly offended and some will start throwing words at you in their native language
- · The details they give you on IM are often different that what was stated on their profiles, one of the more common ones they give different answers to is their birth date, height/weight, and age etc.
- · If you catch them on an inconsistency they will claim a friend or relative must haveve been using their id to chat with you, they will always try to come up with a cover-up and of course, you are always wrong or mistaken
- · They often misspell the cities/towns they claim they are from and are unfamiliar with any of the local landmarks and attractions
- · They do not know common questions that every US citizen would know the answer to
If you have come in contact with a romance scammer, immediately cut off all contact with the person and report them to IC3 and to romancescams.org and other scammer databases like it. Help friends and loved ones to be aware of these signs of an internet romance scammer so that they may learn to surf safely and not become future victims.