Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Romance scam victim who wound up in jail releases tell-all book

She was a sensible, successful woman who found love online with a handsome stranger. She flew half way around the world to meet him, only to be arrested and jailed for carrying 5kg of cocaine.

It sounds like a film, but for Sharon Armstrong it was fact – not fiction.

Seven years on from her arrest in a Buenos Aires airport, Armstrong’s penned a book about her harrowing experience.

Organised Deception documents how she fell prey to a sophisticated drug-smuggling ring and her time in an Argentinean jail.

She hopes sharing her story might prevent other vulnerable woman from falling victim to romance scams.

She spoke to The Hui about what she learnt in jail and why New Zealanders are considered to be easy pickings for romance scammers “we are seen as trusting… and naïve”.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fraud victims who used Western Union could qualify for compensation

Those who used Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 to send money to a scammer cab submit a claim

Halifax Regional Police say fraud victims who wired money could be eligible to get reimbursed for some of the lost cash.

According to the American Federal Trade Commission, Western Union has admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud and has agreed to pay out $586 million.

Those who used Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 to send money to a scammer can submit a claim.

Examples of frauds include:

Online or internet scams – you did not receive the items you tried to buy online
Lottery or prize promotion scams – you were told you won a lottery or sweepstakes, but never got the prize
Emergency or grandparent scams – you sent money to someone pretending to be a relative or friend in urgent need of money
Advance-fee loan scams – you paid upfront fees, but did not get the promised loans
Online dating or romance scams – you sent money to someone who created a fake profile on a dating or social networking website.

Each claim will need to be verified by the U.S. Department of Justice and the process could take up to a year.

“The amount you get will depend on how much you lost and the number of people who submit valid claims,” said the FTC.

The submission deadline is May 31, 2018.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Romance Scam Victims Say Facebook Dating Is A Train Wreck In The Making

Facebook hasn’t done enough to deal with the scammers who already frequent the site.

Not everybody is thrilled by Tuesday’s announcement that Facebook is planning to run its own dating platform on the site. Facebook Dating, set to roll out later this year, will be an opt-in feature through which the social media platform suggests matches for you based on your shared interests and events.

Sure, the news sent the stock of Tinder’s parent company tumbling and caused more than a few people to ponder if what the world really needs is yet another dating site. But there was one group that took things much more personally: Those who have been victimized by online romance scams and think Facebook is complicit.

Facebook has done a poor job of policing its platform and keeping it free from scammers, said multiple victims who first spoke to HuffPost for a July 2017 exposé on online romance scams, an estimated billion-dollars-a-year crime, according to the FBI.
A demo Facebook sent to the press about its forthcoming dating site, Facebook Dating.
A demo Facebook sent to the press about its forthcoming dating site, Facebook Dating.

Here’s how it works: Scammers steal photos from Facebook and other sites and use them to create fake Facebook profiles. They use those profiles to friend people on the site, and once a victim bites, they move the conversation over to WhatsApp or Messenger, which are both Facebook properties. After a close relationship is formed, the scammer will ask the victim for money to handle “an emergency.” Usually it’s a small amount at first, but subsequent requests for money have left some victims bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A Texas woman who cooperated with the FBI lost $2 million.

It’s a con game that experts say preys on the emotionally vulnerable, and many victims are too embarrassed to admit to family and friends that they fell for it. Only about 15 percent report scams like these to authorities, the FBI estimates.

Victims say Facebook doesn’t do much to stop fake profiles from being created. Our previous reporting showed how multiple profiles were created using identical photos and were operated simultaneously on the site ― something that facial recognition technology could easily detect if Facebook cared to use it for that purpose.
A compilation of some of the different profiles scammers created using the identity of Steve G. Jones, a doctor whose&nb
Screenshot from ScamHaters United
A compilation of some of the different profiles scammers created using the identity of Steve G. Jones, a doctor whose pics were used to steal thousands of dollars from women on the site.

Scam victims had dire predictions about Facebook entering the matchmaking arena.

“It’s a train wreck waiting to happen,” said the moderator of Romance Scammers Exposed, a Facebook group that helps victims identify stolen photos used by romance scammers in West Africa, where many online scammers are based. The moderator asked for anonymity.

“It’s going to be party time in West Africa,” said Ruth Grover, who runs ScamHaters, a website that posts warnings about online profiles that appear to be scammers.
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Facebook doesn’t have a great record when it comes to keeping the site free from abuse by online romance scammers as it is, Grover told HuffPost. What’s to say that the company won’t be just as nonchalant when it launches Dating later this year?

Noting that Facebook said nothing about security and identity verification for potential daters in its announcement Tuesday, Grover added, “We may as well close up shop and let the world get scammed!”

She continued, “It will be more of the same. Masses of fake military profiles, engineers and doctors … except Facebook is going to line up the victims for the scammers to pick off.” She called the idea that Facebook would match users specifically with people they aren’t already friends with “madness … irresponsible madness,” and added, “this should be called ‘ScamDate’ because that’s what it will be.”

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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