Victims—predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria—are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.Trolling for victims online “is like throwing a fishing line,” said Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Houston Division who has seen a substantial increase in the number of romance scam cases.“The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be.You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said.A 70-year-old woman met a certain “Richard Randall” online.Entranced by the interest shown to her, the constant communication soon turned developed into an online relationship.
Last year, we outlined a list that corralled a number of the most common love scams that successfully toyed not just with online users’ hearts but also their money—likening it to Neil Gaiman’s notion of love and how it makes anyone vulnerable. 2016 and years and years into dating online and hook up apps, and stigma endures. On this occasion however, his creative concoctions were completely unnecessary. “That way, if we get together, we can honestly tell people we met at Myer.” 2016 and the story still makes my brow furrow. “He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. It’s called a romance scam, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise. The woman, in her 50s and struggling in her marriage, was happy to find someone to chat with. He was very positive, and I felt like there was a real connection there.”That connection would end up costing the woman million and an untold amount of heartache after the man she fell in love with—whom she never met in person—took her for every cent she had.Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money.