“It’s not like going in a bank and holding a gun to the teller,” Beining explained, “because there are so many leads that you provide law enforcement when you do that.
Even if you are able to get out of the bank, we can probably find out who you are and track you down.
Victims—predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria—are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.
Trolling for victims online “is like throwing a fishing line,” said Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Houston Division who has seen a substantial increase in the number of romance scam cases.
“And once a victim becomes a victim, in that they send money, they will often be placed on what’s called a ‘sucker list,’ ” she said.
“Their names and identities are shared with other criminals, and they may be targeted in the future.”To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you.
“He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. It’s called a romance scam, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise.
The woman, in her 50s and struggling in her marriage, was happy to find someone to chat with. He was very positive, and I felt like there was a real connection there.”That connection would end up costing the woman million and an untold amount of heartache after the man she fell in love with—whom she never met in person—took her for every cent she had.
Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop.” The subsequent investigation led by Beining resulted in the arrest of two Nigerians posing as South African diplomats who had come to the U. to collect money from the woman on behalf of Charlie, who claimed he was paid million for a construction project he completed in South Africa.
It details how scammers operate fake dating site profiles in order to con men out of money.
The guide isn't available for free, in fact, it was being sold for Bitcoins on a deep web marketplace.
But Charlie is still at large, presumably in Nigeria, and there may be little hope of bringing him to justice.
“This is a very difficult crime to prove,” Beining said.