ACG-CYBER SECURITY BULLETIN NO 133 UNDERSTANDING THE RISK OF INTERNET LOVE SCAM
The following information was obtained from different cyber security sources for notification to all parties concerned pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG).
The information provided was classified as “Restricted” pursuant to the PNP Regulation 200-012 on Document Security and Impact Rating as high based on PNP Information Communication Technology (ICT) Security Manual s.2010-01 p. 22 and p.129.
If you have been befriended online by an attractive person usually foreign who then tells a tale of falling into trouble or on hard times, this is probably an Internet love scam. The scammer persists with his story to gain his victim's adoration and trust, then asks for money as proof of love. Once the money is transferred, the scammer disappears.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.
Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure target or victims. They may use a fictional name or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.
Scammers will go to great lengths to gain the victim’s interest and trust such as showering with loving words, sharing “personal information” and even sending gifts. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit his/her victim/s, but never actually come.
Once they have gained the victim’s trust, they will ask either subtly or directly for money, gifts or banking/credit card details. They may also ask to send the victim’s pictures or videos, possibly of an intimate nature.
Technically, online dating scams are part of what are known as “advanced fee” scams. The scammer usually requests money to visit the victim, usually to pay for a visa and airfare, but then suddenly runs into other “unexpected” difficulties that cost the victim additional money. The closer the date appears to be getting to the victim, the more unexpected calamities appear. The scammers seem to delight in torturing their victims and seeing just how outrageous they can make the stories be and still get paid.
Many victims lose substantial sums of money, often their entire lifesavings. Some wealthy victims have lost millions of dollars. Many willingly go spending into the poor house selling off every available asset, convinced that their online lover needs just a bit more money to make all their dreams come true.
Often the scammer will send his/her victim valuable items such as laptop computers and mobile phones, or even lure his/her victim about a large amount of money or gold they need to transfer out of their country and offer you a share of it. Thereafter, they will ask the victim’s money to cover administrative fees or taxes.
Regardless of how you are scammed, you could end up losing a lot of money. Online dating and romance scams cheat their targets or victims of millions every year. The money you send to scammers is almost always impossible to recover. In addition, you may feel long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you thought loved you.
The public are advised to follow these tips to avoid being a victim of internet love scam, to wit:
- Be careful when befriending strangers online;
- Do not respond hastily to any requests of money, even if they sound desperate or troubled;
- Do not send money to people you do not know well, especially if you have not met in person;
- Do not reveal too much about yourself, particularly in the form of photos or videos, to prevent you from being blackmailed later on.
For additional information, please refer to the following websites:
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