6 red flags for online dating scams CBS News

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  • I will note the few exceptions in my story. We met on Zoosk. A few days later, I noticed that her personal profile had been removed from Zoosk. From the beginning, she has appeared to be the sweetest, most romantic woman, I have ever known. This is why I believe with almost complete surety, that the woman mentioned above, are partners in this scam, or could even be the same woman using 2 identities. I did ask the address of the bank where this Western Union was located.

    She also explained at this time, that the cost of airline tickets would be around dollars. She said that, all documents could be processed and obtained more quickly through a professional travel agency in her city of Velsk.

    I thought this strange for a professional international tourist agency. But, the website did seem legit. I did not send the sum for the airline tickets, because I wanted to get to know her better. The emails continued, becoming more romantic, and more talk of starting our life together. I also spoke with her on the telephone several times, but she contacted me. She claimed that, she had no telephone or cell phone and could only call from a public phone. Which ironically, she said "did not receive incoming calls".

    She could now go to Moscow, to pickup her passport and visa, have visa interview and fly to the United States to meet me for the first time. This is where the previous stories I referred to, line up once again. On the day she was to fly out, she was detained by Customs, and now required to have dollars in her possession, before they would let her leave. She sent me a copy of her passport and a Customs regulation in Russian. All of the documents seemed official, stamped and dated.

    When I tried to send this amount through Western Union, the transfer was not approved.

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    I now applaud the actions of Western Union, that I did not lose more money, than the dollars I had already spent. Knowing that she would be waiting near the Western Union, I called the airport and found an agent, near the terminal where she was to depart from. I had her paged several times, but no one came to the desk. I then gave a description of her from her photos to the agent. She had security personnel go to the Western Union.

    I waited for the obvious answer, there was no one there matching that description. My suspicions had been confirmed. This was a red flag, and started to examine things more closely.

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    It was a very sloppy signature for a teacher at a school, and letters did not match up to her name. This is when I started searching the internet and found antiscam. I was shocked when I found the stories I mentioned. I have always felt that crimes of the heart do not have an equal punishment in society. It is the worse crime that can be committed against another human being. I could have been scammed out of much more hard earned money, and I am glad that it ended here with your help.

    As for dear Oksana, she certainly deserves what is coming to her, and then some. Aleksenko, Oksana - Kemerovo, Russia.

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    Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The scammers may just have lit upon the perfect crime: They sit at computers safely overseas, hunting for their prey on social networks, and they rarely get caught. Jones is a victim too: His name and photos were stolen to create the fake identities used in romance scams. The odds of recovering that money, the bureau notes, are very low. Some of the money scammed by international criminal networks even winds up in the hands of terrorist operations like Boko Haram, according to Interpol.

    This is crazy, I know! We also talked with members of a cottage industry that has sprung up to support the defrauded: And we spoke to FBI investigators, academics and researchers who study cyberfraud. Like Warnack, she still struggles emotionally to accept what happened. The two men in Nigeria pleaded guilty for their roles in scamming the Texas woman in July and were sentenced to three years in prison. Over the next two years, she sent more money in response to each new story he told her, she said, because, after all, they were in love.

    The Most Likely Victims According to FBI data, 82 percent of romance scam victims are women and women over 50 are defrauded out of the most money. Using fake profiles on online dating sites and social networks, including Facebook, scammers troll for the lonely and the vulnerable. They promise love and marriage and build what feels like a very real relationship to the victim.

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    Someone who has fallen for a scam before is a favored mark. Those names and identities are often sold to other criminals. A Federal Trade Commission study published in found another telling commonality among all kinds of fraud victims: And should they wise up, they may be threatened and blackmailed by their faux lovers. The scammer may even admit the crime to the victim, but then swear he has actually fallen in love with her.

    More than one woman has wound up charged with crimes. Victims live around the globe. Ruth Grover, who lives in northeast England, runs ScamHatersa website that posts warnings about online profiles that appear to be scammers.

    Many victims there and elsewhere are not wealthy and must borrow the money they send to the scammers. While Nigerian scams targeting an international audience in particular predate the internet, as The Guardian reported in January, the advent of social networks and email has broadened the potential victim list and changed the game. These scammers are not just young people set on a career criminal path. The video shows luxury cars bearing license plates for each day of the week, beautiful women and expensive liquor on tap, and dollars carelessly tossed on the floor like confetti.

    Many of the early online scams were run out of pay-per-hour internet cafes, some of which would even shut down to the public while the larger scamming operations took over.

    With better and cheaper internet connections these days, scammers can often work from home. They cast a Vodun spell, which is akin to voodoo, to essentially hypnotize their victims into giving up the money. Scammers often work in teams of five or six, with each member playing a specific role, according to experts who study and prosecute online fraud.

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    One person opens communication as the faux lover. Teammates sometimes impersonate a doctor or a nurse demanding to be paid after a medical emergency.

    Or they pose as work associates or friends of the paramour, to whom the victim can send the money. It is all scripted: The criminals can download their scripts off plenty of online sites.

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    Last year, a year-old British woman was sentenced to two years in prison for being a scriptwriter for romance scammers. One script she wrote tried to capitalize on an American tragedy. The scammer was supposed to say: He made it out of the collapsed building but he later died because of heavy dust and smoke and he was asthmatic.

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    When the victim seeks a face-to-face meeting, the script offers creative ways for scammers to say no or to cancel later. Sometimes thousands of phony online identities are created from one set of stolen photos. Soldiers represent protection, another appealing trait.

    The Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of complaints a month from victims who say they formed an online relationship with someone claiming to be a U.

    There are no circumstances in which a member of the U. When it comes to photo theft, rank offers no privileges.

    Campbell was the top U. Campbell, now retiredtook to Facebook to warn people after he and his staff uncovered more than fake profiles using his image in the first six months after he took over the U. Jones Without his knowledge, Dr. Of course, men who are drawn into these scams come from many walks of life. In the case of Dr. A good part of his life is spent dodging these heartbroken women, some of whom who think he personally ripped them off. One woman made an appointment for hypnosis with his New York office.

    She showed up with color printouts of his photos that she believed he had sent her. When Jones posted on his real Facebook page that HuffPost wanted to speak with women who had been bilked by scammers using his name, more than 50 responded in less than 24 hours. He also posted this public service announcement on YouTube about how to avoid being scammed.

    The Facebook photos of Las Vegas resident Michael Besson were also stolen and used to create hundreds of fake profiles on Facebook and other sites. One woman from a small town in Illinois showed up at the door of his home, he said. He said his motive in speaking publicly was simple: Courtesy of Michael Besson This photo of Michael Besson with his daughter has appeared on hundreds of scammers' profiles.

    Scammers Play In Social Media Social media and dating sites, where people volunteer details about their personal lives, are a natural habitat for scammers. Dating sites appear to be aware of the role they play, however unintentionally, in romance fraud.

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