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Impostor scams can flourish wherever the Internet exists (Eastern Europe and Russia are also hot spots), but most dating fraud originates in Nigeria and Ghana , or in countries such as Malaysia and the U.K., which have large communities of West African expatriates. In fast-developing parts of the world with high. 6 Feb But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud. They're in West Africa, Eastern Europe and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions,” Steve Profitt, Deputy Head of Action Fraud. 13 Sep Online scams may sound like old news to tech-savvy South Africans, but criminals continue to exploit people who come online – often resulting in large financial losses. Artists Against 's Derek Smythe told MyBroadband that people are falling victim to scams daily – including phishing attacks.

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.

American swindled by SA Internet scam

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. 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.

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 more info 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 more info 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.

Currently, the vast majority of online romance Internet Hookup Scams From South Africa aimed at the U. 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.

Scammers target lonely hearts on dating sites | Money | The Guardian

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.

The money you send to scammers is almost always impossible to recover and, in addition, you may feel long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you thought loved A study in the U. Told me he was a widow and was raising his 12 year old daughter alone. He gave a Yahoo email address and a name, Duane. He has a normal routine and I know exactly when I am going to hear from him each morning.

They cast a Vodun spell, which is akin to voodoo, to essentially hypnotize their victims into giving up the money. While the scam story lines vary in detail, they all tend to follow the same trajectory: Scammers often work in teams of five or six, with each member playing click specific role, according to experts who study and prosecute online fraud.

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

Language has been updated to note that several federal agencies were involved in the Western Union settlement. Order by newest oldest recommendations. I also dealt with one from March to Aug 2, in Malays ia. He has a picture od himself and a mansion that is his home in SA.

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 click sites.

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. Even with a script, there can be warning signs for the victims.

How A Billion-Dollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts

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. Member of the military are big targets because women gravitate to photos of strong men willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

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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 click using his image in the first six months after he took over the U.

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 more info 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 read more hours.

Jones has created a Facebook group dedicated to those victims defrauded with his photos. 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: The social network giant has facial recognition software that could help identify fraudulent photo use. 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. It is standard for such sites to disclaim any responsibility for fake profiles that appear. An industry executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost that some sites fight back surreptitiously. They block users who they suspect are scammers without telling them. Any money paid is returned on the back end to the presumably stolen credit card. Victims need to be told: If the person is not willing to meet them in the first month, move on to find someone who will!

Some sites do a better job of actively Internet Hookup Scams From South Africa for fraudulent activity. Zooska dating app with 40 million online profiles and members in 80 countries, lets users make a video of their face with the app that a human moderator will then view and match up with the submitted photos.

Facebook, the largest social network by magnitudes, is also a playground for scammers. Many scam victims told HuffPost that they feel Facebook is not sufficiently proactive when it comes to weeding out and blocking the fraudsters.

Facebook declined to give any details about its risk mitigation systems or say how many compromised accounts are caught. The site asks users to report posts or messages that ask them to inappropriately share personal information or send money. Voss declined to discuss how many reports it receives. The issue of what responsibility social networks, including Facebook, bear for enabling scammers is one that troubles many victims. Grover, of ScamHaters, thinks that Facebook could be more cooperative in policing its site.

Facebook declined to respond to questions regarding its general criteria for removing pages or why it has taken down some specific sites, but individuals do appear to be using the site to facilitate financial scams.

It had grown to almost 1, members over the course of several hours. When it was reported, Facebook took it down.

But as soon as one page is removed, another seems to replace it. HuffPost also found this page called Yahoo Boys, which Facebook has since removed. But, he noted, sometimes it is done more openly. HuffPost also found five active Facebook Internet Hookup Scams From South Africa using different names but displaying the same photos. Two of the five were taken down before we could screenshot them; here are the three that remained.

Scam victim sites suggested that the man in the photo is actually a singer in the U. Facebook declined to comment on the specifics of these screenshots.

For example, when someone receives a friend request, our systems are designed to check whether the recipient already has a friend with the same name, along with a variety of other factors that help us determine if an interaction is legitimate.

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The FBI said it does not comment on the policies and practices of private companies, and a Justice Department spokesman said that as a matter of policy, it would not publicly discuss prosecution strategies. Jones, the hypnotherapist whose photos are regularly lifted from Facebook, argues however that if the site really tried, it could quash the problem entirely.

He thinks that the large sites have programs in place that thwart scams pre-emptively and thus reduce the risk to users. Still, ZeroFox conducted a study of money scams on Instagram last year and found Internet Hookup Scams From South Africa scams were being created at an estimated rate three times higher than the rate at which they were being taken down.

Every digital device connected to the internet has an Internet Protocol address, a unique set of numbers that reveals, among other information, the country in which it is connected.

Anyone can check an IP addressthough some browser extensions will send an alert if someone is doing that. So savvy scammers use a virtual private network to hide their IP addresses.