The FBI tells us that Romance Scams are the most common form of fraud in today’s society. And I don’t use the word “fraud” loosely. As most of you who’ve read my material know, lies only constitute a crime when the victim suffers harm. ‘Til then, lies are just lies.
When the offender crosses that line in the sand that constitutes injury to the other party, they are actually committing a crime. Their lie has become fraud. And the FBI tells us that 82% of romance scam frauds happen to women, and 18% happen to men.
The largest volume of romance scams take place because the perp is after one (or more) of three prizes: assets, immigration status or sex.
Assets- Romance scams that steal assets often take place without the parties ever meeting. In fact, the meeting itself can be the cause of the loss. The offender attracts the victim and engages them with romantic words and gestures so they feel a connected kinship. This type of scam is so common out of Nigeria, that the authorities have given them a name, 419 scams.
Often the photo of the pretended suitor will be stolen from military personnel in order to elicit trust. The grooming might even take place over several months while the offender builds affection and attachment. Once they set up an actual meeting, something, anything, gets in their way:
“I lost my wallet and can’t get on the plane without getting a new ticket”…. All but impossible since their credit cards were inside their stolen wallet.
“I need to get my assets out of the country and need to park them in your bank account until I arrive”…. Hence the need for your banking information which enables them to deplete your account.
“I’m in a foreign hospital and need funds to cover my bill because my insurance isn’t adequate here”….. Tugs at your heartstrings, after all, you’ve been groomed to care about this person.
Many of the asset-based offenses are carried out by sophisticated scam operators from foreign nations. Your ability to scale the techno-wall the operation hides behind is all but impossible, even when you report the crime to the authorities.
Immigration Crime- Forget the Mexican wall! Seriously! The volume of romance scams that enable foreigners to safely immigrate to the US is astounding! It happens to thousands of victims each day, and the violators come from all over the globe! Once they arrive and suck you into vouching for them, or worse, marrying them, their toxic hook is deeply embedded into your life! This form of romance scam happens to both women and men.
As a married couple, you engage in sex with this person, not knowing that they’re simply going through the motions to tap you for a green card. The offender will drop you like a hot potato once they reach their goal.
Sex- The internet is just the ticket a sex addict or sexual predator needs to find you! Their catfish (false) profile will lure you in and convince you their identity characteristics are far different than what they actually are. They use the laws of attraction to bait their hook and reel you in. Laws only exist in a handful of states that can do anything about it, and even then, getting the police or the Prosecutor to take action is almost impossible!
THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE!
Immigration laws are too unwieldy to provide the direct relief victims need. Even reporting the crime to the authorities is bogged down in red tape. Securing justice when the victim is 419 scammed, is all but impossible! But there could be relief for victims who are sexually assaulted by offenders who lie to get laid. If each state enacts laws to prosecute this crime, the level of immigration and sex scams, where offenders meet and induce sex through their lies, can be prosecuted.