Men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say

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On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few. Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts.

For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together.

Foreign victims often fall for the scam, and really do think a U.S. soldier stole their money. Military Members and Romance Scams.

Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people—and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families. In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers.

According to the alleged victims, the scammers have asked for money for fake service-related needs, such as transportation, communications fees, processing and medical fees—even marriage. Scammers will sometimes provide false paperwork to make their case, but real service members make their own requests for time off.

Military Dating Scams

Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community. Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause.

Bogus emails that look legitimate can offer fake alerts or information about the outbreak, fake workplace policy updates, or fake medical advice.

Grey has been battling military-romance scams for about six years. “I’ve been cussed out several times,” he says, describing calls from women.

Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal.

What’s especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U. The scammers are exploiting people’s good intentions toward our men and women in uniform, and exploit their goodwill. Not only does this kind of fraud hurt the victim, but it damages the reputation of the United States Military member. Foreign victims often fall for the scam, and really do think a U. Someone who pretends to be a sailor, soldier, airman, or Marine looking for love but really is looking for cash will count on you not investigating them too deeply.

This is where you can get the upper hand.

‘It’s been hell’: How fraudsters use handsome soldiers to prey on lonely hearts over the holidays

Embassy Kabul frequently receives inquiries from people who have been victimized by Internet scammers. These scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money by developing a friendship, romance or business partnership online, and then exploiting that relationship to ask for money. The most common scam we see involves calls, texts, or social media messages Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, dating apps, etc from a person claiming be a U.

Armed Forces, a military contractor, a U.

Criminals who perpetrate online dating and romance scams use emotional appeals to quickly gain their victims’ trust and then, just as quickly, exploit it.

She wants to use the social media network to inspire young women, but cybercriminals using her photos to engage in “romance scams” have made Vlastuin consider deleting her online presence. Sherri Vlastuin, Instagram popularity came quickly — and at a price. Vlastuin, 26, has used the social media network since to document her life as an Army combat medic at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, her home state. One post — a selfie after her graduation from Air Assault School two years ago — suddenly elevated her page.

Romance scams are part of a new page report released Tuesday by Vietnam Veterans of America, which has spent the past two years on a study of online trolls and their tendency to target veterans and servicemembers. Some expect her to repay them, others seek the same relationship with her that they believed they had with the impostor. She said she has reported hundreds of the fake accounts to Instagram and Facebook, but they continue to multiply.

Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance

A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.

Number of cases rose from to in only two years. Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing.

It has become so widespread that the American military has issued a directive that soldiers make their social media accounts private, in an.

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How can I tell if I’m the victim of a military romance scam?

People on women, countries of other people even fake or business in. But a scammer. Some of known russian romance scammers. On facebook scams use thousands.

The U.S. Army has a detailed fact sheet on spotting romance scammers posing as American soldiers posted abroad. Also From AARP. Experts.

For crying out loud, Jon Louis was even teaching a class on fraud when he got taken in — hook, line and sinker — by the dreaded internet species known as catfish. Looking back a year or so later the scam is obvious to him, but oh my, how joyful it was to feel his heart flutter again. It seemed like a reasonable investment in a long-term relationship. Victims are commonly between the ages of 40 and 69, but those over 70 lose the greatest amount of money to the cons, the FTC reports.

Be sure to protect your heart — and your money. Even the skeptical among us can, like Louis, let our eyes get too starry to see straight. And professional scammers know how to make those chemicals flow. As long as social isolation exists, some measure of danger will be there, Dodson and Van Deusen say. Social-media pressures can lead people to seek fulfillment from external sources rather than internal ones, a self-defeating strategy, Van Deusen said.

It starts with a friend request, or a match on a dating site or app. The kind stranger seems smitten, even in love, and eager to start a committed relationship. Then, almost always, they suggest you move your conversation to a private channel such as email or a chat app.

Woman Discovers She Has Spent $1.4 Million in Possible Love Scam — Dr. Phil