Dating scam is one of the most popular scams. The popularity is due to it’s high success rate, probably because targets are mostly ordinary people; people with little cyber security awareness.
Scammers leverage on the popularity of social media and the ease of dating it affords users to hoodwink victims into making scam induced decisions that leaves them heartbroken…
How dating scam works
The scammer sets up a fake social media profile, especially Facebook. He uses a picture of a US military officer.
He sends a victim (usually female) friend’s request and start talking. He convinces the victim that he is an American soldier on a peacekeeping mission, maybe in middle east or elsewhere.
In less than no time, he starts confessing love to the victim and tells her how he would want to spend his life with her once he comes back from the warfront.
While the girl is drowning in love, he hints her on plans to move his monies to America. Consequently, he asks the victim to open a joint fixed deposit account for both of them and link her number to it.
At this point the victim eliminates almost all doubts… After opening the account, he makes you swear that you will never attempt to make any withdrawal from the account.
The scammer flashes the account. Account flashing means sending a false bank alert to the bearer. In some cases, if you check your account you’ll see the amount but it will disappear in 24 hours.
P.S. To avoid defeating the purpose of this post, I will not go into full details of how flashing is done at this point.
Over a period of time, the victim must have received alert of significant amount.
The scammer now starts billing. He claims he has an urgent need he needs to sort out financially. Considering how much she has received, the victim will not hesitate to run around to raise the money for the scammer.
Many go extra length to meet up. Some borrow, some use their savings, some sell their assets etc.
The aftermath of this scam is disappointments, heartbreak, sometimes suicide.
How to be safe from dating scam
Before you send money to anybody you have not seen before, especially when it is not for business, run a thorough check on the identity of the recipient. You can do so by searching the name on Google, Facebook etc. Drag the profile picture of the person to your desktop, copy it to Google image search and compare the information you’ll see with what you already know about the person.
Ask your account manager to verify the account of the recipient and ask how legitimate it is. In the end, due diligence matters.
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