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Online romance scammers work together in groups of six, usually at cyber cafes, sending out hundreds of emails through the dating websites and chat rooms waiting for responses.
They follow scripts like telemarketers, which explains why their messages sound so similar or even exactly the same.
Its fake members stressed the importance of trusting and supporting a partner, discouraging their targets from asking questions.
They were American, but they lived in far-flung locations like France or Afghanistan where they could justify not making phone calls or meeting in person.
And they were immediately affectionate, talking about their “passionate love” and asking about their “inner being.” After the scammers established contact, they’d make up a financial emergency, like needing to pay for a flight home.
If the target paid up, they’d repeat the process until it was no longer profitable, eventually ghosting their partner who was often deeply emotionally invested in the relationship.
Others have been asked to send money for a plane ticket so they can meet in person.
Some victims have been asked to cash their supposed sweetheart’s pay check and then wire-transfer the money back to them because they are unable to cash it themselves.
These checks are fraudulent no matter how real they may appear.
Victims who cash the checks and wire money may be liable for the funds sent or even arrested for check fraud like the North Carolinian woman serving prison time for her involvement in a check fraud scheme orchestrated by her online lover.
Of course the scheme evolves over time as scammers hone their craft.
In today’s fast paced world of instant communication and social media, many adults have turned to online dating sites to find love, especially around Valentine’s Day.