In last week’s Rye News we looked at some of the better known internet scams designed to part the innocent or trusting from their money. One of the most prolific at the moment – because it is proving highly successful for the scammers – is ‘romance fraud’ and last week we ran through the basics of how it works.
I, together I am sure, with many of our readers, found it difficult to believe that anyone would fall for this. They tend to operate through any one of the myriad dating websites that are available because that way, they can be more precise over targeting their victims.
They are looking for a person – male or female – who is generally more mature. The reasoning being that they may no longer have a mortgage, they may have a pension pot that they can dip into, they will hopefully have savings and they may have other sources of income or capital. In short, they have, or can get access to, disposable cash. This is a demographic that fits well with Rye.
While I was thinking about how to test out how these people worked, by pure chance I received a Skype request from someone called Firdaws. I get this sort of request occasionally and usually reject and block anyone who I do not recognise, but on this occasion I decided to accept the contact request and see what happened.
The first message came through: it was a woman who said she was new to the internet, had found me by mistake and could we be friends on Skype, please.
Without going into long details of our exchange of messages, it was clear from the outset that the object was to ‘groom’ me ready for requests for money. And, sure enough, after a few days, by which time I was, in theory, supposed to be infatuated by the young woman, the first request came – £150 to replace a stolen mobile phone – followed a few days later by £300 to replace an internet connection that had been ‘hacked’. Needless to say no money was sent. Had it been, I have little doubt that the next request would have been approaching four figures.
I was expecting all this, but even so I was surprised at just how convincing they were. Had I not known about this scam, even I might have been convinced that she was real.
So how can you tell?
If this is a random contact that has just appeared on Skype, email or a social media site, be on your guard – indeed my advice would be to block or delete the message without replying to, or accepting it.
If it comes through a dating site, how old are they? are they much younger than you? If so, what do they see in you, a much older person (and don’t for one minute believe, “age is just a number,” we all know it’s not. Where in the world are they? Close enough to meet at some point, or in a country far away. If the latter and there is no chance of meeting, why are they contacting you? Are they where they say they are?
Do they have a picture of themselves? If so, do a reverse image search on Google and see what comes up. The ‘woman’ who contacted me was found by Google on no less than 13 other contact sites, all listed on a scam reporting site as scams.
If they claim to be British, check their use of English. Are there occasional words in odd places in a sentence or phrases that could be written by someone whose first language is not English?
In short be on your guard. Assume nothing is true until you have checked and fully satisfied yourself that it is. Remember they will be very convincing (which is why the average scam nets around £11,000 from the victim) and if they ask for money, for whatever reason, however much they tug at your heartstrings, remind yourself that a normal dating contact would be unlikely to do that and don’t hesitate, hit the ‘block contact’ button – they are fake.
Image Credits: Facebook , Unknown , S.C.A.R.S. .