This section deals specifically with online romance scams.
Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:55 pm
Rental scams are based on the need of the victim to find a house / apartment / office to rent and it involves advertisments posted online. The scammers are fraudulently advertising a property that is not available, or not lawfully owned by the advertiser, and they try to extract money from replies using advanced fee fraud schemes. Most of the victims proceed, even if a deal looks too good to be true, convinced by confident reassurances from the scammers.
Online rental scams operated on the Internet are mostly based on emails and phone calls. There are two ways this type of fraud works;
Against the people searching for renting a place:
In this case the fraudsters post ads on free sites such as the classifieds or they use their own fake sites to advertise properties they don't own. The fraudsters steal details and images of the other people properties from reputable sites and reuse those details and images. The victim responding to one of the fake ads or fake sites offering the property, will be asked to wire the first month’s rent, a deposit, and / or other security deposits. This will usually be through a wire transfer system (Money Gram, Western Union or similar). The victim will lose the money because the property doesn't belong to the person asking for the money.
Against the owners willing to rent:
In the second case the owner, contacted by a fraudster pretending to search for a rental, will receive a check for a higher amount as discussed - "by mistake" - and he will be asked to wire the difference to the sender. The victim will end up as a money mule or as a victim of a fake check scam.
Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:31 am
The conference scam is based on an invitation letter received through email. The victim details are used by the scammer from sucker lists or online profiles. The basic lie is a simple one: the people sponsoring / organizing the event claim to cover some of the trip costs to the destined location (usually Europe or USA), promising help at discounted rates with the Visa and other accommodation problems (hotel etc) for a fee. The victim is asked to send not only money, but also copies of ID documents, bank account statements and anything else a good fraudster need for an identity theft. In the next round the victim will lose the money paid for the so called visa, will lose the money paid for participating to the conference, the money paid for the hotel and will end up having his/her real life details used online for other frauds.
Most of the conference scams originates from Senegal.
Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:17 pm
The traditional job scam offers non-existent jobs in known companies, promising to help candidates obtain a needed visa and work permit for a fee. There are also fake sites involved, mimicking the real companies supposedly offering jobs, plus additional fake sites (some used only for email addresses or redirecting to the real website) impersonating authorities, lawyers, travel agencies and couriers meant to send the "documents" the victims are asked to pay for. The victims contact details are gathered from professional sites or job portals. These types of scams originate from West Africa.
Money mules scams
A distinct different group of job scams involves re-sending money or reshipping goods. The contact details of victims targeted in such cases are gathered from similar sources as above, with an important add from "suckers lists" - former victims targeted in previous scams, preferably those loosing money and interested to recover at least a part of their loses. In this type of scam, the fraudsters are also posting ads online on free sites searching for candidates. The scammers claim to be travel agencies, rental companies, delivery companies or procurement companies. In most of the cases involving money, the money originates from other online frauds and the job seeker will end up as a money mule.
Reshipping goods scam
The victim details are gathered from "suckers lists" - former scammed victims. The fraudsters use also ads on free sites with the jobs they are offering. The so called job is a work from home type and the promised salary is high. The job seeker will receive parcels at home and asked to re-ship them to a different address provided by the fraudster. Accepting the job makes the victim part of a criminal operation: those goods are stolen or bought with stolen money; stolen cards or other victims money. The stolen cards are collected via phishing, Trojan attacks and hacked merchant databases. The action of buying goods online abusing stolen card details is called “carding”. The products obtained this way are shipped to the "mule" home address. The "mule" needs to open the package (with the merchant mark on it), re-pack it and ship it again to his "employer". The products are valuable items that are in high demand and, for this reason, easier to sell (laptops, mobile phones etc). The promised payment after the trial period will never come - the fraudster will drop the person working for him and will search for another victim. The victims of such fraudulent activities have no idea whom they are working for and have no idea either that their action is illegal and punishable in the justice system. Because the fraudsters ask for copies of victim's identity documents, the victim may also be affected by identity theft. Usually this type of fraud is operated from Russia.
In both cases, the victim will bare the legal responsibility for money laundering and/or being an accomplice in a fraud involving stolen properties.
Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:19 am
Travel agency scam.
This type of fraud involves online bookings done by so called third parties - companies pretending they are able to provide, at special prices, accomodation, flight tickets and visas for traveling abroad. The travel agency scam is used in association with other type of online fraud:
- romance scams originating in East Europe, Africa or Far East (frausters willing to be with their "loved ones", who need to pay a travel agency to cover the cost of flights, inssurance, passport, visas)
- job scams (where the job seeker is asked to pay fees after fees for visas, work permits, flight tickets and inssurance).
- conference scams (see above).
Most of the fake sites used in this type of fraud claim to have a refund policy - a blatant lie. Once the money is paid, the money has been stolen and is gone forever.
Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:16 pm
Sending copies of identity documents to people met only online and asking for it, is always a dangerous thing to do.
The fraudsters may re-use those copies to impersonate the victim and scam other victims. They may use those documents to opening bank accounts used in online fraud. They also may use those copies to receive money sent by other victims through wireless transfer payment systems such Money Gram or Western Union.
If those fraud cases get reported, the authorities will look for the owner of those documents and that owner will have a hard time to prove he is not the one using those documents for fraud or otherwise involved with the scammers.
The best option in such cases for anyone sending copies of his/her documents to online fraudsters is to contact local police asking for new identity documents, if possible, and filling a complaint about the copies sent to fraudsters, asking also for any advice to prevent any fraud with the documents.
In this way, if anything bad happens with those copies, at least the law enforcement in the victim's area is aware about the situation and the victim can not be held accountable for any fraud committed with the help of those copies.