Fall in Love — Go to Jail

“Romance scammers are using online daters as money mules “— Says FBI

Candice Spencer
Sep 27, 2019 · 3 min read

Moving into the digital sphere, our whole lives now revolve around smart devices, the internet, and technology. The readily available information of individuals on social media platforms is playing major role in attracting fraudsters and scammers. Gone are the days when the scams were limited to winning a lottery. Innovation and technology have driven the scammers in a whole new direction. The victims of the scams and fraud are not just victim, instead, they are unknowingly becoming offenders.

The use of dating apps and sites is becoming popular and romance scammers are taking advantage of it to trick people into money recruiting. With the readily available information of individuals on the sites, the scammers are scouting for lovesick men and women, nit just to defraud them but also to recruit “money mules” for laundering illicit funds.

“Up to 30 percent of romance fraud victims in 2018 are estimated to have been used as money mules “ — BBB Report

The dating sites prove to be rewarding for every type of confidence/romance fraud, in which the scammers establish a friendly or romantic relationship with a target person and use multiple pretenses to request for money or other financial details. Such frauds are proactively increasing with every passing day. FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) received 18,000 reports from people who claimed to have become victims of romance frauds.

The aggregate loss has reached US$362 million in 2018 — with an increase of more than 70 percent from 2017

According to FBI, “Confidence romance fraud was the seventh most commonly reported scam in 2018 and the second-costliest scam in terms of victim loss.” Even worse, the actual losses are expected to be much higher since most victims are generally too embarrassed to come forward.

Processing the transaction to someone’s account can make you offender, landing you in Jail!

There are multiple cases when the victims unknowingly became money mule and ended up behind bars. In 2016, an incident was reported in which a fraud victim Edwena Doore was jailed for five months. She was convicted of laundering $700,000 in addition to her own money that she lost during her relationship with the offender.

Her story was too common; widowed in 2006 she joined an online dating website in 2011 and there she met “Kenneth Bruce”. In 2013, after the warning from police that she was being defrauded, she cut off her relation with Bruce but re-established sometime later. This led her into laundering stolen funds from hacked accounts of an NSW couple.

In some cases, criminals manipulate people to commit offensive crimes without even proper knowledge of the activity. The victims are frequently asked to process various transactions in their accounts. Since such requests sound suspicious, so offenders persuade them to continue by giving them a monetary advantage or some percentage of the transaction as commission. This encourages most people to do so.

Don’t fall for such scams! Get to know the the person first not the profile

Candice Spencer

Written by

Researcher, Fraud Preventer, Traveller, Reader, Writer, Thinker :)

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade