The latest frontier of online scams is the infamous “Romance scam” as the Americans call it, the love story scam. It affects those who, in the meanders of the network, are looking for a soul mate or a friendship and instead end up falling victim to those who pretend to be madly in love, but in the meantime pin their money. We are talking about the so-called ” scammers “.
Worldwide, this business has now reached figures of several hundred million euros. The nations most affected by the phenomenon are the USA, followed by Great Britain (the BBC News reports 3,889 victims in 2016 equal to 39 million pounds of damage and 350 reports per day), Japan, Spain and Germany, a country in which the police as part of the investigation into the so-called “Nigeria connection”, it unmasked about 8,000 cases of “Romance scam” a year, equal to an estimated damage of 10 million euros. (Source: German criminal police).
In Italy cases are growing day by day and for this reason the Club-50plus dating site ( www.club-50plus.it ) has decided to investigate the phenomenon. Club-50plus, born in 2005, is in fact the first European community dedicated to meetings and friendships for the over-50s, and to date it has about 500,000 members in 10 European countries with over 40,000 members only in Italy .
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A SCAMMER:
Behind the individual scammers there is very often a structured and specialized organization based in several West African countries or in Asia.
Male scammers generally present themselves as widowers, in the profile photo, always stolen from the web, they appear very attractive and well-groomed, they build the image of the perfect partner by declaring a university education and a prestigious job at international level (often they declare themselves engineers , professionals of various kinds or former military), say they reside abroad and usually write and communicate in excellent English or French.
Even female scammers show themselves attractive and seductive in the photo, they say they are professionally committed as school educators, nurses or doctors. Most claim to be of Russian nationality, but in reality many are from South America, Asia or Africa.
HOW THEY WORK:
The scammer, once in contact with the chosen person, immediately establishes a very personal and engaging relationship and, to escape the official nature of the site in which he is registered, he soon asks to continue communicating via an email address or a private telephone number. Gallantry, romanticism, many projects for the future, phone calls and messages at any time of day or night are not skimped. The goal is to make their “victims” fall in love to the point of becoming an indispensable presence in their life.
THE SCAM :
After a variable but never too long period, the real scam is triggered and the first request for money is made.
The scammer can ask for a deposit into a bank account, but frequently prefers a cash transfer via specialized sites.
What are the most common excuses given by the scammer to justify the demand for money?
– of being on a business trip in a distant country, often in West Africa, and having been robbed of all money and documents.
– not to have enough money to make the journey and visit the person he is “in love with”.
– to have a dear relative in need of expensive care because he is seriously ill and not to have the financial resources to help him.
– having problems with the functioning of your credit card.
As communication progresses, the requests to the victim of the scam become more and more pressing and melodramatic tones. Sometimes the scammer gets to announce his own suicide in case he is not helped.
THE GOLDEN RULE TO BE SAFE :
The main rule always remains that of not opening one’s wallet, not making payments and not communicating credit card data to strangers. For no reason. Following this simple rule will protect you from bad guys.