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

The FBI’s internet crime division has issued a warning today about a rising trend in online scams where crooks are using online dating sites to recruit and trick victims into laundering stolen money. Groups who recruit money mules a term used to describe a person who launders money for criminal groups have been active in the past, but they usually employed different tricks and rarely operated via dating sites. Tricks that were popular in the past included fake job ads where the victims thought they were employed at legitimate companies, but they were actually shuffling stolen funds via fraudulently established LLCs; or fake business ventures, where victims thought they were partners in a legitimate business, but they were inadvertantly laundering money for a cyber-criminal. These are crooks who befriend a man or woman to establish a romantic or platonic relationship, and then abuse this to request money on various pretenses — such as for airfare to visit, for bail after being imprisoned, legal fees, and other. But now, the FBI is warning that romance scammers active on online dating scams are changing their schemes, and instead of requesting money, they are recruiting victims to become money mules, and that this practice is becoming very popular. If the account is flagged by the financial institution, it may be closed and the actor will either direct the victim to open a new account or begin grooming a new victim,” the FBI added. After a few months of developing trust, the actor will tell the victim about a lucrative business opportunity. The actor will inform the victim there are investors willing to fund the project, but they need a U. While in this variation of the old romance scam victims don’t lose money, the FBI warns they might face legal or financial consequences for participating in such a scheme.

FBI: Romance scammers swindle vulnerable Florida residents out of millions

Oftentimes, the con artists convince their marks to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds. The story may be spun further, and the scammer will ultimately convince the victim to open the account in their name or register a limited liability company and allow money transfers to flow into the account. In reality, however, the fraudsters transfer stolen money into the account and instruct their unsuspecting crime accomplices into forwarding the money to accounts controlled by the fraudsters.

A recent report by the Better Business Bureau BBB said that up to 30 percent of romance scam victims in were used as money mules. Worse still, it is generally recognized that most victims are too embarrassed to come forward, so the actual losses are expected to be far higher. Obviously, romance scammers also scout for victims on social media, where, just like on dating sites, they lure victims with fake online profiles, creating attractive personas and elaborate plots.

Online dating sites don’t always vet users, so consumers should verify who they’​re talking to.

The FBI is advising consumers to be wary when using online dating sites after the agency saw a 70 percent annual increase in reported romance scams. Cybercriminals are reportedly using online dating sites to trick victims into sending money, providing personal and financial information, or even unknowingly acting as a money mule by relaying stolen funds.

Learn these tips for keeping yourself—and your financial accounts—better protected when meeting people online. Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives a victim into believing they have a trusted relationship and then uses the relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator. The initial grooming phase can last for days, weeks, or even months , and by that time, the victim may be extremely vulnerable to the scam.

Techniques of romance scammers are varied and may include:.

This Is Where You’re Most Likely to Be Catfished in the USA in 2020

The FBI says the crime is grossly under-reported. Romance scams are just one trick fraudsters use to victimize people — predominantly older widowed or divorced — who are targeted by criminal groups from under-developed countries such as Nigeria. The victims, for the most part, are computer literate and educated but emotionally vulnerable, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which says educating the public is its best defense.

The scammers look deeply through your personal information, sometimes on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and study your activities.

The FBI’s internet crime division has issued a warning today about a rising trend in online scams where crooks are using online dating sites to.

It might feel like love at first sight – or first swipe – but FBI agents warn it’s a labor of love for scammers. Millions of people look to online dating apps or social networks to find love, but instead, more and more find fraud. Local FBI agents saw the number of romance scams soar in recent years. Our emotions cause us to do things sometimes that we wouldn’t normally do.

He said romance scam complaints filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in totaled close to half a billion dollars in financial losses for Americans. Scammers win the trust of their victims before creating excuses to need money.

Romance scams costing Americans millions of dollars per year: FBI

So which states have the biggest problems with catfishing—and which have the least? We looked at FBI and Census data to determine your likelihood of being scammed in romance. Catfishing usually refers to online romance scams where someone uses a fake online profile to attract victims. Still, it can also come in the form of family, friends, or business relationships.

Criminals who perpetrate online dating and romance scams use emotional to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at external link icon.

In order to avoid falling victim to such a person, the FBI offers several tips. First, people should only use reputable, nationally-recognized dating websites, though it is still possible for scammers to use these as well. Photos and profiles should be researched using other online search tools and people should ask questions. Officials urge people to never provide financial information, loan money or allow a bank account to be used to transfer funds on one of these sites.

People should also be wary of anyone who attempts to isolate them from their family or friends. Anyone who intends to meet with a person they have met online is urged to conduct such a meeting in a public place and to tell a friend or relative where they will be and what time they will likely return home. For anyone traveling abroad to meet someone, they should check the listing of travel advisories from the U.

State Department, provide a copy of their itinerary to family and friends, and not travel alone if possible.

Hello, young lovers! FBI warns of online dating scams

Ken Duffy KenDuffyNews. More people are turning to online dating for a semblance of companionship during the coronavirus crisis — sites often rife with sophisticated scams targeting Americans from overseas, the FBI warns. Singles might be using online dating sites like Match. But while it might be a nice way to have human contact online, it may leave people more vulnerable to scammers who want to drain bank accounts.

It might be a fake story about the inability to pay bills or a death in the family. In one recent D.

Today most Popular. Initially posted by: Dating and relationship fraud is much more rampant than ever before. The relationship and love frauds include.

The FBI in Michigan has received numerous reports of increased efforts by scammers to target residents across western Michigan with two different schemes: government impersonators and romance scams. In both fraud schemes, the scammer seeks to take advantage of a relationship of trust. There are many versions of the government impersonation scam, and they all exploit intimidation tactics. Be advised, law enforcement agencies DO NOT call or email individuals threatening them or demanding that they send money.

If you question the legitimacy of a call, hang up immediately and report the call to law enforcement using the published number for that agency and the FBI. The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable. Unfortunately, con artists are present on most dating and social media sites. Scammers may propose marriage and make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen.

FBI warns about prevalence of online romance scams

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned Americans to be on the lookout for cyber-based romance scams. The Richmond, Virginia, branch of the FBI said criminals used the most romantic day of the year as an opportunity to con victims out of their hard-earned cash or personal data. For these heartless cyber-villains, websites and apps intended to aid people in their quest to find love are nothing more than prime hunting grounds brimming with easily exploitable victims.

To help romance seekers stay safe, the FBI issued seven guidelines to follow when looking for love online. Advice to “only use reputable, nationally-recognized dating websites,” was accompanied with the important message that scammers may be using these sites as well. Users were advised to perform a background check of their potential love match, using online search tools to verify photos and profiles and asking questions.

Advice to “only use reputable, nationally-recognized dating websites,” was accompanied with the important message that scammers may be.

If you thought online dating websites are on the rise, than you would be right. However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honorable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering. Other scam artists make their fake profiles look as appealing as possible and wait from victims to reach out and begin the conversation.

Once a scammer has you hooked, the possibilities are limitless, but here are a few of the most common variations:. Fraudsters may use the name and likeness of actual soldier or create an entirely fake profile. They send out legitimate-seeming emails, introducing themselves as being near the end of their careers, often with older children and typically widowed under tragic circumstances. The emails are riddled with military jargon, titles and base locations, which sound impressive.

In many cases, these scammers work with one or more accomplices who pose as doctors or lawyers to extract a steady stream of money. In many cases, military scams drag on for months or even years before victims finally get suspicious. The scammer then reveals their true identity.

Special Agent Christine Beining Describes Romance Scams