Online International Romance Scams continue to grow more sophisticated   Leave a comment

 

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I recently read this article from CNN.com and decided to comment on it further.

The above caption is still a pretty reliable way of figuring out fairly quickly if the person on the other side of the screen is really a scammer or someone or just not who they claim to be.

There’s also this:

 

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…If this looks/feels familiar to you and you’re starting to feel nervous, good. Especially the first two points. Both claims should be met with skepticism especially anyone who claims to be a US Citizen or US Soldier currently living or stationed overseas. That right there should be a giant red flag especially for those claiming to be US Servicepeople: They know they can’t disclose where exactly they are while deployed or what they’re doing. An actual US Soldier knows not to disclose anything that might jeopardize security over an unsecure communication channel like a free cloud-based email address (Gmail. Outlook, etc.) and more so if they are in or near a combat zone.

Anyone who travels overseas on their own dime doesn’t need YOUR help getting back. If they have a problem in the other country, they can contact the US Consulate and they know it. If their passport or other documents are stolen, they can contact local authorities who can put them in touch with the US Consulate. Anyone insisting on you sending them money is likely a scammer plain and simple.

Before I move on, I do want to comment on the last point made above about moving communication outside the website where you make first contact with each other. It’s totally fine to exchange external contact info. No rush of course but that’s fine especially if you’ve given reasonable assurance you’re talking to a genuine person. If you don’t want to exchange contact info up front, just say so. Most real people will be very understanding of that as long as you explain why and more importantly, don’t Ghost on them.

 

Moving on to this checklist:

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The first one should be a giant red flag. Me personally, I don’t believe in love at first sight. Especially someone I haven’t met in person yet. You should be extremely skeptical of anyone who messages you saying they’re in love with you and want to be with you. More so if that’s first contact. Scammers use a script and will stick to it as well. They know if they open with this, it’ll throw most people off balance and get them to drop their guard.

I covered the next 3 listed above so going to the last point. It’s not too much to ask to voice chat or video chat to confirm you are talking to a real person. Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts. Take your pick. Even better is you don’t need to use your real phone number with all except WhatsApp and it works internationally too. If they come up with every excuse to not voice chat with you, it’s probably because they’re not who they claim to be or where they claim to be. If they can message or email you, they can at least voice chat.

Of course, you can make some exceptions depending on where they are. On Facebook I have contacts who live in The Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania. Most in those countries can barely text let alone voice chat in some cases. If the other person is in North America, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia or Israel then they should be able to voice chat with you between having a monthly data plan, Wi-Fi access or both.

I have noticed most scammers prefer to use Yahoo Mail over Outlook (formerly Hotmail) or Gmail. The biggest reason being unlike the other two email providers, you are not asked to provide real information authenticating who you are. For example to make a Google Account these days, you need a cell phone just to make an account. An authenticator code is texted to your cellphone which you must enter to prove you’re a real person and not a bot. The advent of Xbox Live 17 years ago meant all Microsoft Services including Hotmail (now Outlook) were integrated so you had to your personal information in the account.

With Yahoo Mail–which has been around since the internet went public in 1994–you can prettymuch remain anonymous. You can make as many Yahoo email accounts as you want without providing actual personal information. I suspect this is the real reason it has remained a viable option despite the overwhelming popularity of Gmail in the last 16 years. You can just make another Yahoo Mail account once people figure out you’re a scammer and contact them using the new account. My Spam folders say hi so…yeah.

 

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Again, some of these will probably feel familiar to some of you.

It goes without saying anyone who is able to send you stuff isn’t hurting for money. They do it to get you to trust them into sending them money. On that note, you ever notice the amount of money they ask for steadily increases and the time they’re willing or able to wait steadily decreases? That should tell you something right there. More so given each Relationship Scammer is likely talking to several people at the same time. Their primary reasons for doing so are to get the money and personal info from as many people as possible.

On that note. You should refrain from sharing the following specific types of information on first contact with anyone you meet in an Online Dating situation. More so if you are unable to video chat with the person or they may not be in your home country:

 

  • Real Name: This is what screen names are for. These days, you can never be too careful. I’m known as Aurabolt on some website and Brendan2k5 on others. Three years ago, I changed my username on Facebook to Lavon Samuel Davis. I will only reveal my real name to people online who I know I will meet in person and only when we’ve met in person. The most anyone needs to know on first contact is your first name anyways.
  • Date of Birth: Most can probably correctly guess your exact date of birth just knowing your age. If one of the first things someone asks you is your birthday, don’t tell them the year. Besides, if they know your age they should be able to do the math on their own.
  • Cellphone Number: DO NOT GIVE THIS OUT IMMEDIATELY. This is how you invite spam to be texted to you and worse. I would insist on a website’s/app’s own communication features, Facebook Messenger, Kik or Skype first and then going from there.
  • Household Information: I would be VERY concerned if they start asking you for information about your family. It may sound innocent or just small talk but there is a purpose behind it. The two biggest being they want to try to look up your family members first and they want to see if there is clues in correctly guessing your account passwords in that information second.
  • Income Status: This is what most Relationship Scammers want the most. They want to know what kind of work you do so they can best figure out how to slowly bleed you dry.

Folks need to also be mindful the above information along with your Social Security Number and Address are all they need to open credit cards in your name. This is exactly why you need to be very careful when making first contact online of what you share and what you keep private.

 

I have some additional information I want to pass along to anyone who in Pinay or Filipina (A woman who is from The Philippines) and is looking for love online with someone who is in the U.S.:

 

  1. If you’re mainly looking for someone who can provide for you and your family financially, prepare to be VERY disappointed. More so if you are looking for someone with in 10 years of your age. Most Americans are NOT rich and in fact, most Americans can barely keep a roof over their heads.
  2. If you live in The Philippines and you are not working or willing to work, you have no right to expect a man to travel across the world let alone pay for you to travel across the world. It costs about $1,000 USD–about 50,000 PHP–for a round trip plane ticket between Boston and Manila for reference. That’s just talking about the plane ticket. It also costs around same amount for a Marriage Visa for those who may be wondering as well.
  3. If some of your first words are “I need help”, “Can you help me?” or “I need money” I can promise you that you will be rejected almost immediately and most likely either blocked or have your account reported. Nothing turns off potential international relationships faster than for a guy to be told up front you want money from them and you haven’t even met yet. It doesn’t matter if your child needs an organ transplant or is dying in the hospital. It doesn’t matter if you need the money to video or voice call. Again, I can promise you this will guarantee you will be rejected completely and swiftly off the bat.
  4. Having kids from a previous relationship doesn’t disqualify you from love and nor should it. At the same time, you shouldn’t put love before your kids ever. Just be open and honest about being a single mom. Most guys will be very understanding. Most Western Men looking for a Filipino girlfriend or wife already knows the father is likely out of the picture so…yeah.
  5. Filipinos can actually VISIT the U.S. with a Tourist Visa and stay for up to 6 months (3 months up from + additional 3 month extension). In fact, it would make far more sense for both parties involved if you plan to visit the U.S. first.

..,Just some things to be mindful of. Included those 5 tips by reequest from some Filipinos who read this blog on that note ^_^

Online Dating is clearly here to stay. It’s all the more reason for folks to take steps to protect themselves against scammers, crooks and people who are only looking to waste your time. Please be careful out there and more so if you potential love interest is in another country,

 

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

…To date, no donations have come in since I started including this in my posts across all of my blogs. I am now asking those who have especially come to enjoy my postings no matter how long it’s been to please donate. Without going into all the details here, I need your fiancial support. If you’re able donate but want to talk to me first, you can email me at btboston1@gmail.com.

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