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New Jersey scammer wooed women by posing as soldier on dating websites, netting $2.1M: feds
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. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market.
Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes.
Here’s how to know if you’re being catfished by a fake military member
Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first. Retired U. Army Col. The year-old husband and father spent half his life in the military. They use his photos to pose as soldiers on Facebook and dating sites, where they trick women into surrendering thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards in the name of love.
Today, online dating and social media websites offer quick and easy ways to meet they’ve seen fake personal profiles and more than a quarter of them have had about, such as soldier, social aid worker or a professional working abroad.
The photograph of the handsome soldier, in full dress uniform, has been doctored and used countless times by crime gangs as they persuade victims, from around the globe to send them money. I never thought people could lie and cheat like this. He made me feel special and I gave him all I had. No one does.
Most days we will come in and there are a few cases that have come in overnight. DS Dalgleish, who has been investigating these types of crimes for the past five years, said women were often targeted via dating websites with fake profiles but also via social media. And before they know it people have parted with substantial sums of money. In some cases the loss of the relationship was far harder than the loss of money.
Politicians yesterday demanded urgent action to regulate online sites and impose greater responsibility on operators to identify suspicious behaviour. Critics say tighter vetting and checks on applicants to join dating sites and a greater use of facial recognition and other security technologies could help curb fraudsters.
Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance
At Match we want to ensure that you have a safe, friendly experience on the site. Remember that on Match you you are fully in control of your search and can choose to take things at your own pace. The approach that members take to get to know you will always vary. The sort of photos they use as well as the language of the personal ad can help you decide whether the member is genuinely looking for a partner or not.
A scammer is anyone using match. Our moderation team manually check photos and personal ads across the site and a built-in screening system helps identify suspicious accounts, remove them and prevent re-registration.
New Jersey man accused of posing as soldier on dating websites, scamming women out of M. Legal / Resources. To perpetrate this scam, the scammers take on.
A New Jersey man was busted Wednesday for running an international lonely hearts scam that turned deadly, authorities said. Sarpong is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the U. Sarpong frequently posted selfies on Instagram with large stacks of cash, expensive designer clothing, jewelry and luxury cars — all of which he allegedly bought with money that women sent him. Federal prosecutors said Sarpong and his cohorts created a variety of fake stories on their dating profiles, but the most common lie claimed they were military personnel stationed in Syria and who received, recovered or been awarded gold bars.
They asked their victims for money to ship the nonexistent gold bars to the U. Sarpong, a citizen of Ghana and legal U. His Instagram photos often featured massive piles of cash, bottles of Hennessy, Gucci shirts and high-end cars. None of his co-conspirators have been charged. Skip to content. The Daily News Flash Newsletter. You are now following this newsletter. See all newsletters. An Instagram post by Rubbin Sarpong, who is accused of wire fraud in a dating scam.
How to spot a scammer
To perpetrate this scam, the scammers take on sites online persona of a current or former U. Soldier, and then, using fake of a Soldier from the internet, build a false identity to begin prowling the web for victims. The most common scheme involves criminals, often from other countries — most notably from West African countries — pretending to be U.
Soldiers serving in a combat zone or other overseas location. These crooks often present documents and other “proof” of news financial need when asking their victims to wire sites to them.
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Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery.
The U. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes.
Military Scams | Common Tricks & How to Avoid Them
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.
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. Communications are exchanged between the scammer and victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have connected with the victim enough to ask for money. These requests may be for gas money, bus or airplane tickets to visit the victim, medical or education expenses.
There is usually the promise the scammer will one day join the victim in the victim’s home. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed or stops sending money. Criminal networks defraud lonely people around the world with false promises of love and romance. Some romance scammers seek out a victim with an obscure fetish and will make the victim think that if they pay for the scammer’s plane ticket, they will get to live out their sexual fantasy with the scammer.
Other scammers like to entice victims to perform sexual acts on webcam. They then record their victims, play back the recorded images or videos to them, and then extort money to prevent them from sending the recordings to friends, family, or employers, often discovered via social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
Locate Military Members, Units, and Facilities
Most of the defendants are Nigerians, the Associated Press reported. Attorney Nick Hanna told a news conference. Army captain in his efforts to smuggle himself and his friends out of Syria. The woman met him online and had been emailing for 10 months. There was no such army captain.
FAKE DATE: Someone is using a fallen soldier’s photo as their profile picture on three dating sites. Ben Kopp died in Afghanistan five years ago and was.
The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. At years-old, Exposto had fallen for a widowed special forces soldier doing his bit for his country. They have never met, which was easily explained — he was deployed in Afghanistan. Exposto recently walked free after facing a death sentence in Malaysia for attempting to smuggle a kilogram of ice five years ago.
Since she was caught, she has maintained she was a victim of a romance scam. Read more: From catfish to romance fraud, how to avoid getting caught in any online scam. Like Exposto, victims of romance scams tend to be between 45 to years-old, impulsive, respond to elaborate stories and are well-educated. Romance scammers prey on people to build a relationship and defraud their victims.
They are clever, well organised and have a number of tried techniques that make them highly successful. The extreme emotional ties formed can make victims easy to manipulate and leave them vulnerable to knowingly or unknowingly engaging in criminal activity. More than 10 million Australians are exposed to at least one personal fraud scam each year.
Recognize Me? The fake and real faces of scammers
The growth of online dating has led to an explosion of catfishing and the combination of lust, infatuation or love means that innocent people can get manipulated or exploited. These relationships can go on for years and often end in tragic emotional or financial consequences for the victims. Catfishers can be driven by anything from loneliness to obsession or revenge.
They can be motivated by the desire to live vicariously through a fake persona, to extort money from a victim, to make mischief or any number of other intentions. Other sinister cases can involve sexual predators or stalkers who use this online anonymity to get close to their victims. There are several truly bizarre examples out there, like the girl who was catfished twice by another girl who posed as two different men.
You will need their Social Security number and/or date of birth. Then they’ll ask for money for fake service-related needs, like travel costs or.
Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money.
According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U. Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don’t realize they are a victim until it is too late. We also have information about how to report a dating scammer if you or someone you love has fallen victim to one. Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation and can sound very convincing. Many of the signs of a romance scammer are subtle and insidious because the scammer is trying to build trust before they exploit you.
Often times, the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time. Guard your personal information carefully, and be wary if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact. Be suspicious of anyone who asks you for financial assistance, no matter how dire their circumstances seem to be.
Often times, scammers convince victims to leave the dating site and use personal email or instant messaging to continue communication. At first, this might not seem like a red flag. Be very cautious when someone asks for your phone number or email address.
How to Spot the Signs of a Romance Scammer and Report Online Dating Scams
Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars. The conspirators told many of the victims their money would be reimbursed once the gold bars arrived in the United States.
In one case, a conspirator claimed he was a U. He sent her a fictitious airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her, along with a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as an Israeli citizen and UN delivery agent.
Never send money to someone claiming to be a Soldier! thieves, because on such sites a dating profile is often required to conduct a search for fake accounts.
Clues for spotting fake profiles. One day Georgina received a friend request from a serviceman on peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan. She decided to accept the request and allowed ‘Jim’ to be her Facebook friend. Soon after befriending her, Jim told Georgina he had lost his wife to cancer and his story of looking after her was similar to her own experience when her husband had died of cancer. S military was nearly finished. He sent me pictures which I now know were stolen from someone on the internet.
We became very close and he emailed me every day saying it was easier for him than using Facebook. He said this was the best part of being in Nigeria because it was close to where the precious stones were being mined and he could buy them very cheaply. It was a lot of money to send but she figured he was a good and honest serviceman and if things worked out they would spend the rest of their lives together. Cease contact with an online admirer if they ask you for financial help , no matter how genuine they sound.
Customs officials seized the gemstones and demanded payment to have them released. I told him it would take some time to get the money and I had to borrow against the family home.