The FBI's internet crime division has issued a warning today about a rising trend in online scams where crooks are using online dating sites to recruit and trick victims into laundering stolen money. Groups who recruit money mules a term used to describe a person who launders money for criminal groups have been active in the past, but they usually employed different tricks and rarely operated via dating sites. Tricks that were popular in the past included fake job ads where the victims thought they were employed at legitimate companies, but they were actually shuffling stolen funds via fraudulently established LLCs; or fake business ventures, where victims thought they were partners in a legitimate business, but they were inadvertantly laundering money for a cyber-criminal. These are crooks who befriend a man or woman to establish a romantic or platonic relationship, and then abuse this to request money on various pretenses -- such as for airfare to visit, for bail after being imprisoned, legal fees, and other. But now, the FBI is warning that romance scammers active on online dating scams are changing their schemes, and instead of requesting money, they are recruiting victims to become money mules, and that this practice is becoming very popular. If the account is flagged by the financial institution, it may be closed and the actor will either direct the victim to open a new account or begin grooming a new victim," the FBI added.
Dating & romance
Dating & romance | Scamwatch
Internet dating scams are when scammers use dating websites, email, or social media to take advantage of those looking for romance online. An internet dating investigation will confirm the authenticity of online identities and aid in avoiding theft and fraud. Online dating scammers will create fake profiles, including false pictures, names, and information, which is usually catered to the type of victim they hope to attract. They will then gain the trust of victims through loving words, heartfelt conversations, and even gifts in order to attempt theft of money or identity. They will take actions like gathering in-depth information across multiple platforms, conducting extensive background checks, and tracing messages back to their original sources. Ultimately, the data gathered by an investigator will be used to put the victim at ease, uncover potential criminal action, and prevent future fraudulent activities by turning evidence over to the police. Sometimes it's easy to tell when and online contact is inauthentic, but some signs are not as obvious.
'Are You Real?' — Inside an Online Dating Scam
Audrey Elaine Elrod was in rough financial shape as the holiday season drew near. She scraped together just enough to rent a square-foot garage apartment that she shared with a roommate, a gangly buffet cook a dozen years her junior. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Elrod opened a checking account at a First Community Bank branch located just across the state line in the twin town of Bluefield, Virginia. She would then return on subsequent days to make additional four-figure withdrawals until the account was nearly empty. Elrod would spend the next few hours visiting other Bluefield establishments that offer MoneyGram or Western Union services: the Advance America payday loan store, the Food City supermarket, the austere cash-for-titles joint located literally under Route
A group of Nigerians stole millions from US companies and individuals by sending fake emails to businesses and using romance scams , according to the FBI. On Thursday, federal investigators unsealed an Oct. The suspects' most lucrative scheme used a tactic called business email compromise or CEO fraud. This can involve posing as a business executive over email, and trying to trick the victim company into wiring a large sum of money to a bank account. According to the indictment , the scammers likely pulled this off by hacking into business email accounts to send off the legitimate-looking, but fake emails to the victim companies.