Online Dating Scams and How to Protect Yourself

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.

Military scams online dating

In a tech-savvy world, it is common for couples to meet online through dating websites or apps. Unfortunately, not everyone joining these dating platforms is looking for true love. The frequency of online romances has caught the attention of fraudsters who manipulate people seeking companionship through romance scams. Fraudsters operating romance scams have recently taken to posing as members of the armed forces to lure their victims into a romance with what they believe to be a soldier.

This scam commonly begins on a social media platform, but it can also start through matching on an online dating website.

Online dating can sometimes expose you to scams. The most common scams involve people working in the army, navy, air force, United.

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.

Catfishing during coronavirus: How an old internet scam still tricks people

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.

Lines Romance Scammers Use – The Lifestyle Digs. Internet dating sites are the go to for scammers looking to swindle your money. Click here to.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. At years-old, Exposto had fallen for a widowed special forces soldier doing his bit for his country. They have never met, which was easily explained — he was deployed in Afghanistan. Exposto recently walked free after facing a death sentence in Malaysia for attempting to smuggle a kilogram of ice five years ago.

Since she was caught, she has maintained she was a victim of a romance scam. Read more: From catfish to romance fraud, how to avoid getting caught in any online scam. Like Exposto, victims of romance scams tend to be between 45 to years-old, impulsive, respond to elaborate stories and are well-educated. Romance scammers prey on people to build a relationship and defraud their victims.

They are clever, well organised and have a number of tried techniques that make them highly successful. The extreme emotional ties formed can make victims easy to manipulate and leave them vulnerable to knowingly or unknowingly engaging in criminal activity. More than 10 million Australians are exposed to at least one personal fraud scam each year.

These Social Media Scams Affect the Military

Romance scammers are fleecing vulnerable Australian women out of millions of dollars by pretending to be US soldiers or heartbroken widowers looking for love. Romance scammers are pretending to be US military personnel to appeal to Australian victims. Experts say people are attracted to those in uniform like those above stock photo , plus it also gives the scammer an excuse to contact their victim at odd hours. CSCRC Senior Research Fellow Cassandra Cross military profiles were popular with scammers who use psychologically abusive tactics including gaslighting and isolation to target vulnerable older singles.

Dr Cross said the scammers can then contact people at any time of the day or night because they ‘work in the military’.

They want to text or email instead of using dating apps. Most websites monitor activity to spot scammers and give them the boot. They will suggest to go to a.

Two Army reservists have been accused of coordinating a fraud scheme involving business email compromises and romance scams against elderly women, according to a federal complaint in the Southern District Court of New York. Joseph I. Asan Jr. Ogozy, both of whom enlisted in the Army Reserve in February , were arrested Oct. An FBI agent said in the complaint that Asan and Ogozy defrauded victims and laundered their proceeds through bank accounts they had opened in the names of fake businesses.

The publication Quartz noted that only Asan has been indicted and some of the court records indicate Ogozy might be cooperating with investigators. Few details of their military service were released in the document, and while the romance scams they were allegedly engaged in targeted elderly women , the schemes did not appear to invoke their military service to help their cause. The two men would gain unauthorized access to business email accounts or spoof emails and impersonate employees of a company in order to convince victims to transfer funds to bank accounts they controlled, the FBI agent said in the complaint.

An email was sent in February telling the chemical distributor that payment for the sale should be deposited in a bank account owned by Uxbridge Capital, LLC, at a credit union for active-duty, retired and reserve U. After the bank was alerted that the wire transfer was fraudulent on March 1, , the funds were recalled and the account was frozen. For more newsletters click here. Another business scheme involved an email compromise at a Marine Corps veterans organization.

The transfer went through and the victims began cooperating with law enforcement.

Romance Scams: The Email Threat That Breaks Hearts and Banks

Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community.

Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause.

According to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, hundreds of women in the U.S. and overseas fall for fraudsters who pretend to be.

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.

Here are two more articles and a video about dating fraud, complete with recommendations for how to stay safe. When love becomes a nightmare: Online dating scams. FBI warns of romance scams using online daters as money mules Up to 30 percent of romance fraud victims in are estimated to have been used as money mules. Up to 30 percent of romance fraud victims in are estimated to have been used as money mules.

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Recognize Me? The fake and real faces of scammers

Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.

Since the large adoption of the internet, the online dating industry in the military​, or, in the case of high-profile romance scam out of Australia.

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. Now Facebook and Instagram provide fraudsters with greater reach and resources, enabling them to more convincingly impersonate others and more precisely target victims.

Officials from the United States military and the F. When The Times followed the trail of one scam, it led to Nigeria, where six men said in interviews that they swindled Westerners over the internet because it paid far more than honest work, which they said was hard to find.

How to spot online romance scams

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.

Make sure that your time on dating apps and websites doesn’t leave you Today’s romance scams have a military flavor that you should learn.

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Military romance scams trick victims out of money