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Dating & romance scam – victim lost $20,000
My brother was contacted by a person on Facebook who claimed to be in the US Military in Afghanistan. After convincing him to send iTunes cards, the person told him he would come see him and marry him. Soon after he was delayed for another "special mission". Excuse after excuse why he could not return home, eventually, he was in a country by the name of Togo in Africa and out of the military but could not come home. He had gold he wanted to send back (for some reason) which was given to him by saving a Middle Eastern man's life. The gold was seized and he was placed in jail and pleaded for $8,000 US dollars to get out. Then he said the church would put up half the money if he could send $4,500. My brother is still struggling with the fact this is a scam and wants to send him more money but we keep telling him this is a scam.
What were some signs that this was a scam?
- The scammer professed he would marry the victim.
- The scammer claimed he was overseas for work.
- The scammer always had reasons why he needed to borrow money urgently.
- The scammer had the victim buy him iTunes cards.
- The scammer always had excuses why he couldn’t visit the victim.
What are some things the victim could have done that may have helped in this situation?
- The victim could have run a reverse-image Google search of their prospective partner’s profile photo to help check whether it was fraudulent.
- The victim could have refused to buy gift cards or make up-front payments. It’s best to avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or Bitcoin, as it is rare to recover money sent this way.
- We’re not sure if the victim had posted personal information, but it’s important to be careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
- Similarly it’s important to be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with partners you’ve never met before. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.