This romance scam tricks victims into laundering money
With Valentine’s Day looming, romance is in the air. If you seek love via a dating app, watch for scammers who only love your money. Scammers are using people to funnel stolen money out of the country. This con may look like a classic romance scam, but they trick victims into illegal activity, and a court could prosecute the victim.
How this scam works
You join a dating app and start messaging someone who looks fantastic. The person is a complete package: good-looking, successful, kind, and, most importantly, really into you, too! After chatting briefly, your new love interest suggests you talk by text or email rather than through the app. If you do that, you may notice that they also delete their dating profile.
Everything seems great, but soon, your new beau has some unusual – but seemingly harmless – requests. They want you to receive money for them and wire it overseas. They may claim to be helping a loved one battling COVID-19, doing a business deal, or representing a charitable organization. If you refuse, your amorous new beau may become hostile, threatened, or distant.
It turns out that the money you will receive they have stolen. After stealing it, scammers send the cash through someone in the United States or Canada, making it harder for authorities to trace. Money laundering and wire fraud are illegal! Although the “money mule” is a victim, they may also face prosecution.
In a recent example, a victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker, “I was involved with internet romance by Andrew Charles Carlos, who sent me a package as a gift from Syria. When the package arrived, global Logistics asked for a $2,250 fee before releasing the parcel due to its content containing $10,000 cash. I paid $2,250, and they transferred the parcel to Seattle, Washington. They told me there was another fee of $4,500 before releasing the parcel. I paid $4,500, and they told me the parcel would arrive on January 24. On that day, I received an email stating that my parcel was on hold by the customs/Federal Bureau of Investigation in Indiana, with the notice that I had to pay the sum of USD 6,500 for the delivery process to continue. Also stated in the email, “We were talking with the customs; they said they charged the last victim of this case the sum of $20,850 USD., but due to our explanation we made to them, telling them this is a military package and probably you might not be aware that such amount of money is in the box, that they should just help us and reduce the price of the tax. We concluded that you have to pay USD 6,500.”
How to avoid similar scams
- Do your research. Many scammers steal photos from the internet to use in their dating profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website like Google Images to see if they stole the pictures on a profile from somewhere else. You can also search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t. Scammers most often pose as men and target women in their 50s and 60s.
- Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may need help remembering details or making a story fit.
- Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you’ve never met. Call off contact if someone asks you for financial or personally identifiable information (PII), like your credit card number or government ID number.
- Be suspicious of requests to wire money or use a pre-paid debit card. These are scammers’ favorite ways to send payments because, like cash, you can’t recover it once the money is gone.
Read the full alert for more tips.
For more information
If you’ve been a scam victim, please report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others stay alert and avoid similar scams.