Singles seduced into scams online – Technology & science – Security, NBC News

Dating sites, singles talk rooms latest target of Nigerian scams

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Richie’s picture demonstrated a jolly, bearded man curled up on a couch with a cat massaging his face. “Loving, caring and hardworking,” the online dating profile said.

When Theresa Smalley received a note from Richie last January asking if she wished to talk, she wasgoed flattered. He seemed lovely. The two began exchanging e-mails, friendly at very first, but quickly full salute te strength and passion. By Valentine’s Day, Smalley received a opbergruimte of chocolate candy, a teddy bear, and a helium balloon that said “I love you.” Smalley, 46, wasgoed hooked, even tho’ she had never met him.

Richie said he wasgoed from Milford, Mass., but that he wasgoed out of the country on a big construction job. He wasgoed helping build a stadium ter Nigeria, he said. Spil soon spil he returned, he promised, he’d come visit Smalley te Ohio. He couldn’t wait, and neither could she.

The spirited e-mail romance hummed along for another two months before there wasgoed a problem. Richie said his boss paid him ter postal money orders, and he wasgoed having trouble cashing them. Could Theresa do a petite merced for him? Could she metselspecie the money order for him, then wire the money to him te Nigeria? Smalley agreed, and overheen the next two weeks, she cashed two $900 money orders and sent along the funds. Then, Richie wasgoed ready to leave the country, but needed money to overeenkomst with a visa problem. She cashed another money order.

Then, Smalley’s canap called hier. Something wasgoed wrong.

“I had to call a special number at the bankgebouw. Even up until that point I still believed him. I had no qualms whatsoever cashing (the money orders),” Smalley said. Even after the handelsbank told hier the money orders had bot altered — they were purchased for $20, but then “washed” and doctored to read $900 — she still held out hope. But a friend pointed hier to an Internet webpagina loyal to Nigerian scams, and abruptly, Smalley’s world crashed down around hier.

‘My entire world had fallen exclusief’

Movie: Provocative scams Smalley collective hier version of events with MSNBC.com te the hopes that others might not fall for the same trickery.

“Never te my wildest desires would I have everzwijn known that this is all a part of an elaborate online scam. He spent four months gaining my trust and he did it.”

So-called Nigerian scams, where victims are ultimately tricked into sending money to the African country using some irreversible method like a wire transfer, are common. The Secret Service and other U.S. agencies have issued warnings on the scams, also known spil “419” or “advance-fee” frauds. But the inviting flavor of this type of the scam — known to some spil “sweetheart scams” — and the incredible patience shown by the scammer expose just how far con artists will go to trick their marks.

Ryan W. of Washington state, who asked that his last name be withheld, says he sent $15,200 to a similarly inviting scammer. And he wasn’t even using an online dating service. Ryan wasgoed approached while draping out ter a talk slagroom dedicated to Grateful Dead ventilatoren. His seducer also claimed to be an American out of the country getting paid via money order, and also ultimately asked him to metselspecie them. Five weeks zometeen, when the canap came calling, all $11,000 ter Ryan’s bankgebouw account — most of it from a student loan earmarked for next semester’s tuition — wasgoed frozen by his handelsbank.

“Typically people go on the Netwerk to get dates. I wasgoed just on there trading music,” he said. “The thing that duped mij wasgoed the entire music punt. She seemed to be into the music I wasgoed into.”

Flowers bought with stolen credit cards

“A little bounty of flowers or candy is a good aphrodisiac,” said Miskell. “The next thing you know, they are ter love. I can’t tell you the number of women who have fallen for this.”

Eventually, the con artists woo their soulmates to do them a big valimiento — help transfer funds out of the canap.

There have bot so many victims that they are beginning to find each other online. A fresh Yahoo group, “RomanceScams,” wasgoed founded last month by Smalley and Barb Sluppick, who said she almost fell for a similar scam earlier this year. Among the hundreds of messages posted to the group are photographs of alleged scammers, linksaf to potentially fraudulent online dating ads, and copies of come-on e-mails. The group is attempting to publicize the problem to limit the harm.

“How many people are out there thinking they found the love of their life and they have no clue what’s happening?” Sluppick said. “The very first thing most people say to mij when they voeling mij is, ‘I can’t believe I wasgoed so stupid.’ “

Sweetheart scams emerge to be on the rise, said Julie Ferguson, executive director of the Merchant Risk Council, which tracks scams for online retailers.

“I am certainly getting more calls on this. I used to get one every three months. Now, I get one every duo of weeks or so because it’s the easiest way to get somebody hooked,” Ferguson said. “The stories are so-gut-wrenching sad.”

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