Love scammers prey on people looking for companionship and affection. These scammers generally use fake profiles on legitimate dating sites, social networking sites, or chat rooms to find and approach victims. While love scammers can be found in any part of the world, a significant percentage of online love scammers come from two different areas – the former Soviet Union and Africa. Most Russian scammers target male victims, while African scammers target both men and women.
Note: These are red flags but not all scammers fit every point. If some of these do not fit the person you are corresponding with it does NOT mean that you are not talking to a scammer.
The classic signs of a love scammer
• He/she often provides high quality, professional-looking photos of a very attractive man or woman. These photos are often copied from websites geared toward aspiring models but may be stolen from many places online. If your scammer is playing a female, she may send provocative or pornographic photos. Scammers posing as females often base their characters on porn models or actresses, and may even use video of the models to create fake interactive webcam.
• The scammer will try to establish constant contact and may want to chat, call, and/or email you daily or even several times a day.
• After a very short period of time, (s)he begins declaring his/her love for you and wants to spend the rest of his/her life with you. (S)he may even start referring to him/herself as your husband or wife and may refer to your children as his/her own.
• The scammer may use your name very little, and sometimes not at all. (S)he may use terms of endearment (babe, honey, angel, etc.) excessively. Emails include lots of “personal” information, but very little that directly relates to you, questions you have asked, or information you have given. The scammer is usually operating from a script and will want to deviate as little as possible because deviating means more work and makes it harder to keep track of the various victims he/she is communicating with.
• African scammers may claim to be a US or UK citizen who happens to be travelling in another country (often an African country or Malaysia). Note: In one common scam format, the scammer will claim to be an American soldier stationed abroad. We have information about this specific type of scam Here. In some cases, (s)he may initially claim to be in your country, but shortly after making contact with you will have to travel to another country. This helps justify why (s)he won’t meet you in person, and also sets the stage for future money requests. In reality, the scammer is not from your country and has never been there.
• Once the scammer thinks you are committed to the “relationship,” (s)he may ask you to send money to him/her or a third party, usually via Western Union or Moneygram, but occasionally by bank transfer. The money is supposedly needed for living expenses, for a personal or medical crisis, or even a translator for your correspondence. There may also be money requests to pay for a visa and flight to visit you or for BTA or other supposed travel fees, accompanied by excuses as to why you can’t simply send a ticket or arrange the visa yourself.
• Scammers may ask you to receive packages or money and forward them on. (S)he will have a story explaining why (s)he can’t receive them directly. The contents of the packages will be purchased using stolen credit cards and any money received comes from other scam victims. By forwarding packages or money, you are participating in theft or fraud and exposing yourself to possible criminal charges.
If you have been asked to receive and further mail checks, they are fraudulent. This is known as a money mule. Scammers DO recruit romance scam victims to be unknowing accomplices to their check scams. Any checks you have been asked to process through your bank yourself ARE fradulent.
What to do if you think you may be in contact with a scammer
• STOP all contact immediately. Ignore or block his/her email address and block him/her from your instant messaging ID. If you can, block or don’t answer any suspect phone numbers, if you do accidentally take their call hang up without saying another word.
• DO NOT SEND MONEY.
• Ask for advice! Leave a comment on this post or drop me an email through our contact page. I’m happy to do some quick research to help.
• Do not tell him/her why you know (s)he is a scammer, point out his/her mistakes, or direct him/her to any anti-scam information. Please understand that confrontation will only lead to more lies; and any information you provide may help them learn to scam more convincingly.
• Do some internet searches for the information they have given you. Please understand that not finding information on them does not mean that they are not a scammer.
• It is not advisable to continue to write to the scammer, even if you consider that you are just "playing" with them, because they have personal information about you.