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Tips for Consumers: Overseas Romance Schemes
Tips for Consumers
Overseas Romance Schemes
One fraud, which has grown in recent years, is the overseas romance scam. This can even fool consumers in the Baltimore area. It occurs when overseas strangers pretend romantic intentions, gain the affection of victims, and then use that good will to gain access to their victims' money or by getting them to commit financial fraud on their behalf. Most of these scams originate from West Africa (especially Nigeria), Russia, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. The fraud is so serious that the U.S. State Department has issued warnings.
One woman who was cheated wrote: "We met on a dating website. Richie described himself as 'loving, caring and hard-working.' His photo, of a handsome, bearded man, sold me. He said he was from the U.S. but was supervising a construction project in Nigeria." Weeks into daily instant messaging, she had lost her heart to Richie. Two months later she lost $2,700 to him.
"Richie" asked her to cash some of his postal money orders and wire him the money. The money orders were counterfeit and the bank demanded its money back. "[Richie] said he would hop a flight that night so we could straighten everything out at the bank. That was the last I ever heard from him."
Thousands have reported similar stories. Men are duped nearly as often as women, usually by male scammers posing as lonely females.
Here are tip-offs to bogus overseas lovers:
Lousy writing. Romance scammers often claim to be educated businessmen, but since most are foreigners their writing is littered with poor grammar.
* A 23401 Zip Code. The number is actually the area code for Nigeria.
* Eye candy. Scammers take their photos from websites featuring models.
* Corporate "paychecks." Contact the company and verify employment first.
* Address request. He wants to send you "love" gifts (paid for with stolen credit cards)-and set you up for a reshipping scam.
To file a complaint visit: www.baltimore.bbb.org or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.
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