(October 31, 2011) An investigation by 60 Minutes Australia discovered that online daters in Australia are being taken for more than $10 million a month from online dating scammers based out of Nigeria. They spend hours wooing the unsuspecting person online then when they know the person has fallen in love with their persona, they create an “emergency” and ask for money.
Tens of thousands of Australians fall for the trap.
The scammers will continue to milk the person for money until the person has no more to give. Then the scammer “disappears”. Even after the scam is done, some people still don’t want to believe they’ve been scammed.
From the report:
“LIAM BARTLETT: Rosalie is 53 – divorced and terribly lonely. For romance scammers, the perfect mark. Looking for love online, she met Benjamin Walthol – a handsome, American businessman, working in Malaysia. Ben wooed her for hours at a time – he even sent flowers. Rosalie believed she’d finally found true love. And when the man of her dreams asked for loans to help his business, she happily handed over thousands.
ROSALIE: $90,000 plus what I still owe in phone calls and I have a debt of fifteen thousand dollars.
LIAM BARTLETT: You’ve given away your entire life savings and you’re in debt?
LIAM BARTLETT: But even now, Rosalie clings to the dream that Ben will repay the loans and they’ll begin a new life together as he promised.”
For years, Online Dating Magazine has warned about online dating scams, also known as “romance scams”. By playing on matters of the heart, scammers have discovered a gold mine of money because once a person believes he/she is in love, they will do anything to help the person they are communicating with.
Nigeria scammers are well trained. They know what to say, when to say it, and don’t mind spending hundreds of hours cultivating a perceived relationship before striking. Online Dating Magazine has even opened a site dedicated to awareness of scams – Online Dating Safety Awareness.
Some ways to avoid being scammed:
1) Only communicate with people that are local.
2) If the person says they are “overseas” on business, it’s likely a scam.
3) If the person has an excuse for not meeting, they are likely a scammer… or married.
4) If the person ever asks you for money and you have never met, then they are a scammer.
Scammers bank on one thing – your emotions and the time you invest in communicating with them. Because you’ve invested so much time communicating with the scammer, before they ask for money, your guard is down. You are likely to believe the person, what they say, and in the potential relationship they’ve been cultivating. This psychologically causes a person to want to help even though they’ve never met this supposed boyfriend/girlfriend.
Also, scammers don’t just use email anymore to communicate with online dates. They use the phone too. So just because you’ve been chatting on the phone, doesn’t mean the person isn’t a scammer.
Click here to view the Australia 60 Minutes report titled, “The Love Trap”