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He spent four months gaining my trust and he did it." So-called Nigerian scams, where victims are ultimately tricked into sending money to the African country using some irreversible method like a wire transfer, are common. But the seductive flavor of this type of the scam — known to some as "sweetheart scams" — and the incredible patience shown by the scammer reveal just how far con artists will go to trick their marks. of Washington state, who asked that his last name be withheld, says he sent ,200 to a similarly seductive scammer. Ryan was approached while hanging out in a chat room devoted to Grateful Dead fans.
His seducer also claimed to be an American out of the country getting paid via money order, and also ultimately asked him to cash them. "The thing that duped me was the whole music issue.
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The group is trying to publicize the problem to limit the damage. Now, I get one every couple of weeks or so because it's the easiest way to get somebody hooked," Ferguson said. We don't want people to be taken in." But they are, said Donna Gregory, supervisory internet crime specialist at the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center. "We've even seen them take as long as a year (to seduce a mark)," Gregory said.
"How many people are out there thinking they found the love of their life and they have no clue what's happening? "The first thing most people say to me when they contact me is, 'I can't believe I was so stupid.' " Sweetheart scams appear to be on the rise, said Julie Ferguson, executive director of the Merchant Risk Council, which tracks scams for online retailers. "The stories are so-gut-wrenching sad." Some scammers seem to deliberately target groups set up for Christian singles, she said, where people may be less likely to be suspicious. Con artists will hunt for people's weaknesses, find out what they care about -- such as Grateful Dead music -- and then go in for the kill.
A new Yahoo group, "Romance Scams," was founded last month by Smalley and Barb Sluppick, who said she almost fell for a similar scam earlier this year.
He was helping build a stadium in Nigeria, he said. I had no qualms whatsoever cashing (the money orders)," Smalley said.
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"A little gift of flowers or candy is a good aphrodisiac," said Miskell. I can't tell you the number of women who have fallen for this." Eventually, the con artists convince their soulmates to do them a big favor — help transfer funds out of the bank.
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