Different types of romance scams

The more contacts I have from people who have been scammed the more I see the different types of scams that are being carried out.  The amount of ‘romance’ can vary.  There are a number of types of activities that have building a relationship as a primary focus.  You will find these listed on the governmental sites that talk about scams as Online Scams or Fraud, and this is a more generic description. Only when you read the detail does it make it clear this relates to what is commonly known as ‘romance’ or ‘dating’ scams.

In my blog I have focused on scams that use romance as the hook to then enable the scammer to exhort money.  The contact mechanism is often dating sites, but can also be any membership site or social media such as Facebook or even communication mechanisms such as Skype or Viber. Whilst dating sites have the benefit (to the scammer) of legitimacy and expectation of making contact, because that is the purpose of the site, other mechanisms, like on Facebook, the scammer is putting out a ‘cold’ request for contact with no automatic expectation, except social convention and politeness perhaps, of a response.  They must be successful though, because they keep doing it, and I know from victims who respond thinking “its just friendship, it can’t hurt”, that whatever lure they are using, it works. Continue reading Different types of romance scams

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Right of Reply…

I felt moved to provide a ‘Right of Reply’ comment addressing the negative responses to a recent guest contributor blog posted on Starts at Sixty.  Its re-posted here.

100815_senior_woman_computerI recently wrote a blog about my scam experience which was posted on the Starts at Sixty website, which I have recently joined.  As with previous publications by me or others, there were many comments questioning “how could she be so stupid?”, “hasn’t she seen the warnings?”, “why doesn’t she join a club?”,  etc.  There were also positive and supportive comments, but I felt moved to provide a ‘Right of Reply’ comment addressing the negative ones. The following is copied from my comment (Comment No 199) on Starts at sixty.  I don’t know if it will be read by those who commented on the blog, but thought it was worth reposting here. Continue reading Right of Reply…

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How do they research you, so they can better hook you in…?

In the early days with my scammer, we exchanged emails with a lot of questions in them about what we liked and did not like.  In the context at that time the questions seem innocent enough, but embedded in them are key questions that the scammer can later use.  Eg. when he went back to England he asked if I knew anyone in England.  My negative response to this let him know that he did not need to worry about me knowing too much about where he lived.

In general conversations/exchanges about interests, passions, previous relationships, etc there will be items that you share about what you like and don’t like. One item I put on my profile was an interest in property investing.  That is a give-away that you have an interest in money making ventures.

By revealing themselves first, and saying that they are looking for someone who is honest and open, they lay the ground for you being the same. E.g

"Relationships: Give 100%, if this can not be given, then you are not that true friend, lover or husband/wife. Be true to yourself, and your love ones. Honesty, communication, and understanding along with patience will make the difference. This is just my opinion mind you. Sharing, is more than finance, material assets, more importantly, it is the sharing of yourself, time, and love. Giving always more to the other, and they will give back. It is a forever revolving door of giving..."

As well as giving away information that can be used, what is not commented on by the scammer can sometimes be telling.  My scammer did not comment on my political inclinations, my spiritual preferences, or seem to take more than a cursory interest in Australia or Victoria.  this felt a bit odd at the time, as they are areas that can be disastrous and deal breakers in relationships. These were items that I wanted to know about him, but did not get the chance to follow up. In hind-site, the absence of a response shows how shallow the communication actually was, but at the time things were moving at such a pace that it was difficult to pick up on this.

Instead the talk turns to what feels special… and this is the hook!

"I will say my heart tells me you are one very special woman. Whatever will be between you and I, please know you have a friend for life regardless of the miles between us. I feel very blessed that you responded to my email, that I will cherish forever. In our walks of life, it is not often you come across another who still has morals, family values, respect and continues to follow their dreams.

 Its so easy to not take notice of the contradictions or incongruities.  We must get better at making sure we do follow up on these.

If you think you are being scammed, get in touch with ACORN .  Remember its not just a scam, its a deliberate and professional fraud that is being perpetrated.

  • ACORN: The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.  This is an national policing initiative that allows cybercrime victims to easily and instantly report cases of criminal activity online, as well as providing information on how to avoid falling victim to cyber criminals.

Starting at the beginning – How did I come to get scammed?

If  I look back at the circumstances around how I got caught in a scam there are a number of things I can identify that made me particularly vulnerable.

The biggest thing is I felt ready, ready to connect, ready for a new relationship, ready to find someone special.

I had just moved interstate, back to the city where I grew up. I had not lived in Melbourne for 45 years, having left when I was 17 to go away to study at university. I had been back to visit of course, as all of my family except my Mum lived in and around Melbourne, but not lived here. So it was a big step.

I’m the sort of person who once they decide on something, I get myself organised and it happens.  This was the case with the interstate move as well.  I had been down for a couple of visits, doing job interviews, looking at houses, and on the last day of my old contract had a new job lined up to go to.  I took a house unseen. I packed up everything, and moved, and it all went smoothly.

All of this meant that I felt good about myself. I thought, why not find someone to explore Victoria with. I wanted companionship.  I had seen many other couples around me, often together for many years and still enjoying each other’s company, travelling around the world together.  I wanted that togetherness for myself as well.

As I wrote in my book (Love over Money, still to be published ) I was ready.  Being ready means you are open, in a state of anticipation and expectation. This is what makes you vulnerable as it is easy for those with ulterior motives to get their hooks in to us.

This combined with lack experience of online dating and the dangers meant I approached it expecting people to be truthful and honest, especially when they say they are.  Scammers often say they are truthful and honest, and that they are looking for someone like this as they have been hurt in the past by people who have let them down.

In reality it is all a lie, but it is hard to detect that at the beginning. Scammers seem sincere, normal, keen to connect to the right person, and match that in us. And I  responded normally, out of that open space, not understanding that it is all an act, a well tried script, a lie…