As victims, we become hyper-vigilant, and also notice things like phone numbers still in use. This victim has set up a web site looking for others being contacted via the same phone number +61 488159797, concerned that they might also be caught in a scam. Read her full shocking story here. Contact her directly if you have any information to share.
This victim also sought to do some due diligence by getting a private investigation company to look into a potential partner she met on RSVP, only to find later that her interactions with this company were hacked and intercepted, with false positive responses about her scammer provided to her in reply. This encouraged her to believe the information provided by the scammer was true. She later watched as all of the email folders of the interactions with her scammer disappear before her eyes, unable to be retrieved even by Microsoft. Scammers it seems are becoming more skilled, adding hacking to their skill of emotional manipulation, lying convincingly, and resisting interference from well-meaning others.
Even Personal Investigators are not immune to hackers. They are “even posing as Cybersecurity now” say eVestigator ® Simon Smith, and attacking those that are trying to put a stop to scammers. Its easy enough to troll and discredit people who are trying to prosecute scammers. He has himself experienced this.
I am regularly contacted by people from around the world who have a friend or family member being scammed. “What can be done to make them realise they are being scammed”, they ask me. I have no magic bullets to help.
I myself did not respond to warnings that friends gave me when I was in the midst of being scammed. We are entranced, enthralled, trusting and believing our scammer, and the dream that they have offered us, no-matter how many red flags are visible to others. We don’t accept that the warnings relate to our own special and strong relationship with our fiancé/scammer. We don’t believe a scammer could build a relationship so intimate. And we become so financially invested that it is difficult to face the prospect that we might lose it all. These two aspects are what keeps us there in the (fake) relationship. Unfortunately, by staying, we may give, loan, and so lose even more money. Check out my upcoming book to read my own full story in detail. A pre-order discount is available.
The financial losses are individually huge as people are encourage to take huge loans that they have no capacity to repay, and cumulative totals in Australia and around the world are growing to staggering amounts. How can we stop this scourge? I feel helpless in the face of it. All I can do is write this blog and talk to victims… ScamWatch provides the following on Helping a Family Member, but does not provide any more help than I can for how to get through to a family member embedded and engulfed in a scam.
Some protections that everyone should take, especially those who know they have been scammed:
- Change phone numbers and emails, blocking known scammers
- Copy all materials you wish to keep including emails onto external media such as USB drive
- Change passwords regularly using high strength passwords, and where available, use 2 step authorisation
- Install good virus protection on all devices
- When setting up new social media accounts, review and select security settings that protect you and your friends. Use made up names.
- Be wary of any unsolicited contacts, especially those that might offer help with finding or prosecuting your scammer. There are numerous ‘secondary scams’ that perpetrators will use in an attempt to get even more money.
- Be wary of survey requests – they can be phishing for personal id or lifestyle information
- Don’t open unsolicited emails
- Keep yourself educated: Sign up to scam alerts such as ScamWatch Radar by ScamWatch to stay abreast of the types of scams or computer vulnerabilities that have been recently experienced and reported. This includes types of unsolicited emails being used.
- And more recently, though not ‘romance based’, be very wary of phone calls from people pretending to be from well-known businesses and government departments trying to con unsuspecting victims out of their personal information and money.