Online fraudsters: egregious examples


A widow slightly over 60 met a man at one of the dating websites, namely at, he sent her what she thought to be his real photo and seemed to charm her with his words of romance. The man told her that he was a contractor from Connecticut. And three months after the beginning of their online dating, she began sending money to help him. He explained that he had gone to Nigeria to oversee a project, but ran into one emergency after another. So the women sent about $15,000 before she realized it was a banal scamming. Sad but true, a typical case.

Mass scamming?

The main trouble is that online scamming is the almost the same age with the Internet, but authorities say that those fraudsters that use romance as bait for their victims are on the rise due to the rise of the role of the dating sites in our life. For example, two years ago, in 2012, the Federal Trade Commission even created a separate category for them among the variety of other web crimes tracked, namely “romance scam”. And last year, the agency claims, it got complaints of total losses of circa $105 million (!), almost even with the year before. But all those complaints reported are only a tip of the iceberg.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has already called the problem a real epidemy. According to their words, they receive hundreds of reports each month from victims cheated by people on dating websites who pretended being soldiers, including even those servicemen, who have been killed in combat.

The wire-transfers companies rank so-called romance scams being the most prevalent types of global fraud they trace, together with some certain kinds of Internet purchases and false lotteries. Canada’s fraud unit reported on about $16 million lost due to romance scams in the year of 2012, this number has grown up from about $600,000 in the year of 2008. British and Australian authorities have also reported those widespread problems.

Another case – this time all ended well

A 66-year-old woman from San Jose, California, had to dip into her retirement savings and even refinance her house to invest half a million dollars in the online suitor’s non-existing oil rig. The woman, whose name wasn’t called, sent her money in allotments, and stopped at the sum of $200,000 transferred to one of the Turkish banks.

When the woman finally contacted the district attorney’s office, it requested the bank to freeze the funds. An accomplice of the fraudster, who is still at large, was arrested trying to withdraw the funds, and remains in one of the Turkish prisons pending the case there. The woman’s money was returned.

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