The victim met the scammer on a dating/social site. First step - the scammer is trying to get the victim out of the site - asking for the victims email address / phone number / skype / messenger. In a short time he may even ask the victim to delete his/her profile, as a sign of good faith. Why?
1. The scammers hate competition - they don't want to lose their victim to another scammer.
2. The activity of the site may be monitored. By doing something inappropriate, such as demanding money, the scammer can lose that profile or he may be reported as a scammer. Translated in a more understandable way, he may lose all the victims lured with that profile. Because the scammer is playing the same game with more victims at the same time, he may have victims at different stages, some already paying him, some in the process of sending money and some new ones.
3. By chat or phone (using text messages most of the time), the scammer can take complete control of the victim, requesting dialog despite the victim's schedule. Also, in this way, because of the limited space, they don't need to be creative.
The basic stories used by the scammers are always the same.
A. The scammers are impersonating men that are successful in their businesses, widowed or divorced, sometimes with one child or more at home, traveling a lot for business or work.
The romance begins with emails full with stolen lines from love quote sites, links to romantic/love songs, long descriptions about the scammer's life, previous life, origins, parents, work place. The scammer falls in love in a short period of time, willing to get married / visit the victim, demanding more and more of the victim's attention and time. They ask a lot of questions, not because they care, but because the answers gave them the needed elements they may use to control the victim better.
The conversation moves onto chat or phone and they demand more and more from the victim's time. Some scammers are patient and spend months before any money request - they have other paying victims in the same time, so they can bide their time until the victim is under their complete control. The victim is asked to talk day and night, at normal hours initially, and odd hours after a week or two, being deprived of sleep, regular meals, and kept away from friends and other social activities, except work. When the scammer believes he is controlling the victim, the problems starts...
Usually, the main reasons for money requests are:
- medical bills for an illnes of the scammers' child he can not deal with, while being abroad for business;
- unexpected costs due to a new contract signed by the scammer abroad or partnership in a recent business developed by the scammer abroad, able to bring huge revenues.
- accidents affecting the scammer /robbery letting the scammer without money and documents.
In this area, a distinct category is the military romance scam - the scammer claims to be a military officer / general (US in most of the cases), in a war zone, ready to retire/resign, searching for a life partner. He can not use the phone or the web-cam due to security reasons, he can not send or receive money where he is, he can not access his own bank account as long as he is in the war area.
The money requests usually are:
- a payment for a secured phone line - the victim is asked to contact a company providing this service and to pay a fee, allowing her/his phone number to be connected on a secure line with the military base where the scammer claims to be;
- travel /vocational basic allowance - the victim is asked to contact the superior of the military person, for allowing him to have a holiday - a form needs to be filled with the victim's details and the victim needs to pay between few hundred and few thousand dollars for having the scammer free for holiday or furlough.
If the scammer has children, other developments are possible - illness/accidents of the children, school taxes need to be paid etc.
From case to case, after the first payments, the romance scam is combined with other classical Advance Fee Fraud scams.
B. The scammers impersonating a woman are usually young, searching for mature men and willing to relocate. The money requests, in their stories, arrive sooner than in the previous cases of women being scammed.
Reasons for asking money:
- costs for visiting the victim - travel documents or flight tickets
- medical problems for the scammer or someone in the scammer's family
- costs for translating the emails and sending pictures (the Translation Agency Scam is used by scammers from the former Soviet Union area - in this case the entire communication is done by emails only)
- expenses necessities (starting with food and ending with purchase of personal hygiene products).
In both cases, the scammers are requesting mobile phones or laptops, clothes and branded products. In both cases, the scammers are using fake names and stolen pictures, redirected phone numbers, VOIP numbers, or mobile phones with disposable prepaid cards.
A variation of this scam is the gold digger/pro dater scam:
The scammer, usually a young woman, is using her real pictures and documents with the victim. The scenario is different and depends on the area where the scammer is located.
For the Former Soviet Union pro daters. The victim is requested to go to the scammer's country for a visit. The scammer will rent an apartment for the victim (at a higher price than one currently on the market). Because the scammer is not able to speak the language of the victim, a translator is needed and this translator will be present at every meeting, being paid by the victim. The victim is persuaded to invite the scammer to expensive restaurants/clubs and to buy her luxury products. Some of the victims may end up beaten and robbed if they are not willing to pay for the things the scammer wants. At the first "no", the scammer will dump the victim without a word. Not even for a single second during those meetings, will the victim be alone with the scammer.
The pro-daters from other countries are the ones visiting the victim at the victim's location. In some of the cases, the victim is invited to meet the family of the scammer in the country of origin, with the idea they will get married. All the money invested for their common future will be spent on things bought in the name of the scammer. It can take years until the victim is penniless. At this point the scammer will dump the victim, and go searching for another one.
Help yourself by helping others - report your scammer here.Google can be your best friend
;use it if you have doubts about someone met online. If someone met online only asks for money, no matter what reason, it´s 100% scam.