Mark Hertling left Facebook after romance scammers repeatedly used his pictures. Image: Twitter/Mark Hertling
More Likely to Fall
A Federal Trade Commission study
says people are more likely to fall victim to a scam if they have gone through a
negative life experience in the last two years, like divorce, separation, loss of a job or a spouse.
Bruce, a YouTuber, says in a video
that he lost his heart to a romance scammer overseas right after a failed
relationship at home.
"The main reason is that the time I had very low self-esteem in myself," he said. "I had just gotten out of a very
bad relationship. I wanted it to work so bad. I focused on the good things and ignored all the bad things."
YouTubers Bruce & Yuri talk about Bruce's romance scam relationship. Image: #yuribruce
A study in 2017
from the University of Warwick found people more likely to fall for the romance scam are middle-aged
women, highly educated, with tendencies toward impulsivity, sensation-seeking, trust and addiction, though plenty of
men, younger folks and people without these characteristics fall victim, too.
Many victims simply don't admit sending a few hundred dollars to a pretty face overseas.
How Romance Scammers Do It
The scammers reach out to lonely souls through dating sites, as well as Facebook, Instagram, even games like Words
"I met mine on Tinder," said Karen, who posted a video
about her experience.
Your new friend quickly declares you the love of their life.
"When they talk to you, they call you the queen, goddess, baby," she said. "After a couple of weeks, they start
talking about marriage. They call you their wife."
Karen describes her experience with a romance scammer in a YouTube video. Image: Karen Simcox
You may notice red flags, like these:
They claim to be in the U.S., but don't know places in their town.
They always call after midnight, but the background noise sounds like its midday.
They don't want you to search them up online.
"They'll always be in a position where you shouldn't search them because their lives dangerous or they might lose
their job," Karen said. "So, you don't when you should."
Then the man or woman you're planning to marry suddenly has a crisis and needs money.
"Their children are ill. Their family members are ill. They're trapped somewhere in a remote country. Their
business is going to go bust," she explained. "And if you don't help them, they'll lose everything."
Even if you're suspicious, you've already invested your heart.
So, the money follows, again and again.
A Missouri woman whose husband had died of brain cancer sent in all three million dollars to her new fake boyfriend,
"Larry B. White" from Christian Mingle, who claimed he was investing in a gold mine in Ghana,
according to news reports
Romance scammers often pretend to be widowed, in the military, working as an engineer & living/working overseas. Image: Facebook
Turning You Into a Scammer
Romance scammers may use you to launder money from other crimes, like email scams where they
trick companies out of millions
with fake money requests.
Or they may have you send them expensive items.
If you call them out on their scam, they may blackmail you with nude photos you thought you were sending to your
dream guy or gal.
"These people are scum. They need to be stopped," Karen emphasized. "And we need to stop being victims."
Behind the Scam
Who are these heart-crushing crooks?
In some cases, the very same Nigerian scammers who tried to get you to move $30 million out of their country.
Three men from Nigeria were convicted in 2017
, one sentenced to 115 years in prison.
The Justice Department charged nine more people
And another man was arrested this year
Despite the arrests, the scams continue.
A real colonel, Bryan Denny, fields calls from women
who have fallen in love with him via his picture - used by
crooks more than 3,000 times.
He's part of a group Advocate Against Romance Scams
, trying to get Facebook to take more action.