Online romance scammer made R13 000 000 in seven years

THE Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has revealed the modus operandi used to scam women or men online.

The national centre gathers and analyses transactional and related information for the purpose of producing financial intelligence reports.

The most common method is the online romance scam.

One scammer FIC tracked down used an online dating website to extort funds from victims which were paid into a bank account purporting to belong to an entity.

They were able to identify the signatory on the owner’s bank account as being a Nigerian with South African citizenship.

The suspect had been running the scam for about seven years. He made about R13 million in Europe and North America, according to the study.

His latest victim reported him after losing around R1.8m.

He allegedly laundered the proceeds by using them to renovate his house, buy expensive clothing and electronic equipment, and to pay school fees.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) states on its website that scammers usually take advantage on dating websites, or apps and social media.

By playing on emotional triggers, they are able to obtain money, gifts and personal details.

This is done by creating fake online profiles designed to lure an unsuspecting victim in. According to the ACCC, scammers would express strong feelings in a short space of time.

“Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come,” says the ACCC website.

Once trust is gained, they would start asking for things or pretend to need the money for a personal emergency while sounding desperate.

Some online tips from ACCC:

Never send money to someone you have not met in person.

Google the prospective partner to help determine if it all matches up.

Be aware of excuses, like their camera does not work.

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