Romance scam

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Gender and age demographics of victims of online romance scams in 2011.

A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, and/or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.[1]

Stolen images[edit]

Scammers post profiles, using stolen photographs of attractive women (or men), asking for men (or women) to contact them. Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money. This might be for requests for gas money or bus/airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc. There is usually the promise that the fictitious character will one day join the victim in the victim's country. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed and/or stops sending money. Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance is a farce.

Internet[edit]

Scammers post profiles on dating websites to groom new victims. Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur.[1]

Common variations[edit]

Narratives used to extract money from the victims of romantic scams include the following: 1 The scammer says their boss paid them in postal money orders. The scammer wants the mark to cash the money orders, and then wire money to the scammer. The forged money orders leave the banks to incur debts against the victims.[2]

Another variation is the scammer has a need to marry in order to inherit millions of dollars of gold left by a father/uncle/grandfather. The young woman will contact a victim and tell them of their plight of not being able to remove the gold from their country due to being unable to pay the duty/marriage taxes. The woman will be unable to inherit the fortune until she gets married. The marriage being a prequiste of the father/uncle/grandfather's will. The scammer keeps the victim believing that they are sincere, until they are able to build up enough rapport to ask for thousands of dollars to help bring the gold into the victim's country. The scammer will offer to fly to the victim's country to prove that they are a real person. The victim will send money for the flight. However when the victim goes to meet the scammer they never show up. The victim contacts the scammer to ask what happened. The scammer will provide an excuse such as not being able to get an exit visa, or illness of themselves or a family member. Scammers are very adept at knowing how to "play" their victims - sending love poems, sex games in emails, building up a "loving relationship" with many promises of "one day we will be married". Often photos of unknown African actresses will be used to lure the victim into believing they are talking to that person. Victims may be invited to travel to the scammer's country; in some cases the victims arrive with asked-for gift money for family members or bribes for corrupt officials, and then they are beaten and robbed or murdered.

Also some romance scammer's will seek out a niche of various fetishes where they will find an obscure fetish and they will make the victim think that if they pay for the scammer's plane ticket that they will get to live out a sexual fantasy of theirs by having the scammer come to them to have sex.

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