For the next few weeks, my producer continues to speak to Paul Richard on the phone as I listen in. Plenty of Fish is one of the most popular dating sites in the world. Three ways to spot a romance scammer. Usually you’re going to find one or more social media sites belonging to the person whose image(s) were taken and reused by the scammer, and the site will be associated with another (real) name. We have finally uncovered the real identity of our catfish. It's an immediate red flag. This will shield your inbox from a possible flurry of unwanted email requests. Surprisingly, he doesn't hang up straight away. Since I wrote my first article on romance scams, I’ve received “please help” emails each week from the children or friends of victims who have fallen head-over-wallet in love with a romance fraudster. They usually tell the victim now that they have their “real name” that they feel a sense of relief and can be more “honest” with the victim, and so on. Don’t let a scammer rush you into making any sort of decision. If they say their phone is broken, tell them they can use someone else’s phone. Some of these money mules are innocent victims tricked into forwarding on cash, others are in on the scam. Instead he's paying off creditors each month using his pension. They say as proof, they want you to take a new picture of yourself with a copy of today’s newspaper and headline.”. A romance scammer might try to isolate you from friends and family or pressure you to make impulsive decisions alone. Save the photos to a folder you can easily relocate. Alarm bells should be ringing in your head when a person says that he or she is in love with you within a short period of time. Perhaps they claim to be a foreign fund manager or offer to sell you something of value for next to nothing. Sadly, even this will be unlikely to sway you loved one. Worse, scammers on OkCupid would possibly try to hyperlink you to paid sites and trick you out of funds. Perform reverse image search in Google. Indonesia crashed plane's 'black boxes' located, 'Kind' pilot and newly-weds among air crash missing, Looking for answers in the life of a killer, What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy, The 'ghetto president' aiming for the real thing, UK leading the way in use of language-learning apps, Robot used for lockdown couple marriage proposal. The first step is to get your loved one to sign an agreement with you. CSO |. The number he rings from has a Nigerian dialling code. You may be unsure what to do at first if you suspect that you’re being scammed. They usually “confess” that they lied about their name (and lifestyle), but come up with enough excuses about why they lied. So the scammer may say "ok drop your crystal seed and you can get these items that you see here! The first test is to prove that the photos belong to someone else who has a different name. It feels like a disappointing end to our search, but later that night he calls back. Their stories are designed to tug at the heart strings and to empty bank accounts. I run into so many messages, even if I show them it's not me they still don't believe it because they are so deeply in love.". Then they will likely either do what they can to convince you otherwise or just move on to a new victim if you directly accuse them of being a scammer. We spot a number of women who look like her going inside but each time it's a false alarm.. Then, just as we think our sting has failed, we receive a notification telling us the cash has been picked up using Marcy's ID. It leads us to the Instagram page of Juan Avalos, a real life marine whose page features the same pictures sent to us by Paul. Have them agree that they will not send money, and dare to dream, break off all contact with the romance scammer. There's just one thing standing in the way of our future happiness - Paul's son is sick and desperately needs medical attention. Subscribe to access expert insight on business technology - in an ad-free environment. Within its millions of users there is something you can count on: plenty of them are fraudsters and romance scammers. © 2021 BBC. He denies scamming anybody and then ends the call. This time, Daniel Joseph Okechkwu confesses. Read about our approach to external linking. .css-1xgx53b-Link{font-family:ReithSans,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:700;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;color:#FFFFFF;}.css-1xgx53b-Link:hover,.css-1xgx53b-Link:focus{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}Read about our approach to external linking. Many use stolen credit cards to join the sites and post fake profiles. "I'm broke. He sticks to his story about being a US soldier and insists his name is Paul Richard. The scammer upon reading this will reply that they are unable to comply with the request, usually because they don’t have access to a current newspaper. To a person, in my experiences, the victim believes them, and still stays in love. Do not send money. Same goes for this anonymous woman, addressed by a Facebook scammer trying to earn some easy money. For example, you could say “stand on one leg”, hold a piece of paper with today’s date on it, and so on. Take steps to protect your personal information before engaging in the virtual dating scene. The catfish are often based in Africa and work from pre-written romantic scripts in internet cafes. This is not a scam!" The mark: A victim who is targeted by romance fraudsters image caption Laura Lyons specialises in tracking down online romance … Here are some easy steps (get it because I'm EasyE) on how to outsmart scammers who think they can steal your goods! If their profile picture looks professionally … Currently it has 100 million users and it is estimated that 500,000 are paid members and about 3.5 million are active users on a daily basis. The short term scam immediately asks you for money. The average dating scam victim has sent hundreds to thousands of dollars to their online-only remote romance, but I’ve heard about losses into the tens of thousands of dollars, and a few over a hundred thousand dollars. Your date professes his love quickly. You agree that if the remote romance person passes both tests, you will no longer claim that the person on the other end of the scam isn’t who they say they are (although they may still be taking advantage of your loved one). After a brief silence, a man with a thick African accent comes on the line. You do this by clicking on the little camera icon that represents “Search by image” and then pasting or uploading each photo, one at time. Be cautious about sharing personal information Whether you’re creating a profile on a dating website or social media, be extremely cautious about what you share. It was not me, I did not do it. Internet shared stories: There’s a car sized spider under toilet seats that are poisonous and ready to eat you for snack? But the romantic emails she's been receiving are really coming from a small town in Nigeria. You can watch BBC Panorama's .css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link{color:#3F3F42;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{color:#696969;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{font-weight:bolder;border-bottom:1px solid #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{border-bottom-color:currentcolor;border-bottom-width:2px;color:#B80000;}@supports (text-underline-offset:0.25em){.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{border-bottom:none;-webkit-text-decoration:underline #BABABA;text-decoration:underline #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-underline-offset:0.25em;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{-webkit-text-decoration-color:currentcolor;text-decoration-color:currentcolor;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:2px;text-decoration-thickness:2px;color:#B80000;}}Billion-Pound Romance Scam on Monday 19th November at 8:30pm on BBC One, or afterwards on BBCiPlayer. We then find a Twitter account with that name and the same profile picture as the one used by Dan Coolman. While the advice from my previous article is still valid, I have a new, complementary method to help convince your loved one that the remote scammer is not who they say they are. It's a classic catfish twist. What Is Your Full Name? It's far from unusual, as catfish are ruthless with their victims. The woman on the phone thinks she has a fiancé in the US. This isn’t a legal contract, but the more “official” you make it seem, the more likely your loved one is to follow it when their heart and logic is questioned. Spurned and scorned, victims of romance and other scams are turning into online vigilantes. To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, always follow the simple rule – never give your money. I find Google’s image search to be quite accurate. The 67-year-old from Doncaster should be enjoying a comfortable retirement. They are likely saying they cannot take a photo for some reason. This advice likely seems very specific. Then look under the results section entitled, “Pages that include matching images”. The agreement says that if you perform the two tests and the romance scammer fails either, then the loved one must agree to admit that they are likely being scammed. Usually those pages will have many pictures, which will show the person being used in many more photos than the scammer has been using. Try to inject humor if you can. The loved ones usually confront the scammer with the true names of the person in the picture. Then they will likely either do what they can to convince you otherwise or just move on to a new victim if you directly accuse them of being a scammer. Tell your loved one to tell their romantic interest the following: “My son(s)/daughter(s)/family no longer believes that you are who you say you are. New way to convince your loved one of a romance scam While the advice from my previous article is still valid, I have a new, complementary method to help convince your loved one that the … He has written "$500" next to the name Sherry. I know it sounds strange, but in more cases than not, they still want to believe and be in love. Roy Twiggs shows me the stream of email conversations he had with someone who pretended to be a US woman called Donna. Unfortunately, the very same popularity and acceptance of online dating has made the whole concept rife with scammers and fraud attempts; and with the growing sophistication of software that lets “bots” do the dirty work, it can be hard to tell the difference between a genuine romance-seeker and a scammer. If you have been hooked once, you are more likely to be targeted again. Those affected by such scams lose on average around £15,000. If they say that no one near them has a phone, tell them to find a friend or store to take the requested picture. To outsmart a scammer, always hang up and redial the company main number and request verification that they called you. 7 Tips on How to Outsmart Romance Scammers Once you have a feeling you’re being scammed on a dating site, you need to figure out a way to get out of it. I’ve helped a lot of people break their loved ones out of the grip of an online romance scammer. It's not long before the catfish begin to bite. Columnist, Tell your loved one to tell their romantic interest the following: “My son(s)/daughter(s)/family says they will accept a current picture of yourself, but you must touch your index finger to the tip of your nose.”. The request must be very easy to do, but not common in causal photos. But it's been collected 400 miles away - in New York. When you're sending £3,000, £4,000, it sort of all adds up. The military profile is a commonly used cover story which gives catfish an excuse not to meet in person, as well as providing a seemingly legitimate reason to ask for money to be sent overseas. On day three, he wants to marry her. The scammers are ready. Often the pictures will belong to someone in a different country with a completely different life than the victim was being told. Most victims are too embarrassed to go to the police, but there are still 10 catfish crimes a day reported in the UK. We send her a small amount of cash to see if she will pick it up. They may have already given this excuse before you even began this process. But we get a result on the fourth, a selfie Paul claims is him in his army uniform. Romance scams exploit emotions, disaster-relief scams take advantage of generosity and financial scams tend … They will be embarrassed enough, but at least you’ll have them back and not sending any more money to some online grinch. 1. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Should you find an item that’s at an unrealistically good price, think twice. The 4 pillars of Windows network security, Avoiding the snags and snares in data breach reporting: What CISOs need to know, Why CISOs must be students of the business, The 10 most powerful cybersecurity companies. If you think it’s a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Although this is not the outcome that you wanted, it is the first chink in the armor. Dan Coolman is another false name, but we discover the phone is registered to Daniel Joseph Okechkwu. 7 tips about how to Outsmart Romance Scammers . Or a lovely young Russian beauty who can’t wait to hold her gruff-looking senior American boyfriend’s hand in marriage…once he sends her a few thousand dollars so she can escape her horrible life in a remote village. There are a lot of grinches in the world. Dating site scam victims lose £2,000 to fraudsters, Romance scam victim 'ashamed' of losing £26,000, Robot used for lockdown couple marriage proposal. That’s the only way to avoid stay away from criminal relationship. Often, it will just be one photo, but it isn’t rare for the victim to have a few more. The doors to the barber shop are locked and locals say it's been closed for weeks. Then they will likely either do what they can to convince you otherwise or just move on to a new victim if you directly accuse them of being a scammer. Nearly two-thirds of reported victims are women, so I have become Kathryn Hunter - a wealthy divorcee looking for love. "The money seemed to be for plausible things. Any request for monetary assistance is a signal for an immediate breakup of relationships and the cessation of all kinds of contacts. You can request any slightly unusual action that is not already represented in knowing existing photos. Breaking the power of love-inducing endorphins doesn’t happen right away. Once you have a feeling you’re being scammed on a dating website, you will need to figure down an easy method to leave of it. When we ask Marcy what's going on, she claims she's also a victim of our catfish: "I never was going to go to Western Union and pick that money up but now somebody's used my info and gone and picked it up. Juan told us: "These guys will say anything to anybody and lie. There is a photo of our catfish posing with a customer on the side of the building, but no-one seems to know where Daniel Joseph Okechkwu has gone. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Or a foreign doctor needs their remote “lover” to send “green dot” cards so they can get a visa into America. Just how to Outsmart a Romance Scammer: Top 7 guidelines in 2020 Often there is a chance that you could run into a relationship scammer on a site that is dating. 1. How to outwit a romance scammer? Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc. We don't know whether Marcy is in on it or not, so we head to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, where she lives. Another tall-tell sign that an email is a romance scam is if the person comes out and tells you they want to make out with you, before they’ve even met you. He sounds sincere and he apologises for the way he has treated us. What I can say is that usually the victim starts to see the reality of the situation, and a few weeks later, is finally able to see the scam for what it is. I want to catch a catfish by setting up my own fake dating profile. In certain full instances, you may have been speaking with that scammer for such a long time that you’re uncertain getting from the jawhorse. The easiest way to prove someone is a catfish is to find the real person whose pictures they are using. Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc. The House of Representatives could vote on Tuesday on whether to impeach Donald Trump, Democrats say. 7 easy methods to Outsmart Romance Scammers After you have an atmosphere you’re being scammed on a dating website, you’ll want to figure away a means to leave of it. More than a quarter of new relationships now start through a dating website or app, so there's no shortage of potential victims. Paul says we should pay the cash to his nanny in the US, a woman called Marcy Krovak. Online dating investigation site Social Catfish helps break down how Nigerian dating scam rings operate and how to … But he needs us to give him money, so that he can afford to stop tricking other people out of their cash. He's using the same number that our catfish has been calling us from. Often times, you’ll see that scammers use very plain names, or maybe two … Set up an alternate email account and use it exclusively for dating correspondence. 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