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Nigerians are becoming well-known for their involvement in
dating or romance scams. Scammers prey on those looking for love
connections, generally through dating websites, apps, or social
media, by posing as potential partners. They use emotional
manipulation to persuade them to provide money, gifts, or personal
According to CNN, federal authorities have
charged ten people in Oklahoma, New York, California, and Texas
with conspiring to launder money obtained through a romance scam
targeting women nationwide.
Five of the individuals charged were arrested in Norman,
Oklahoma; one was arrested in Brooklyn, New York; and one was
arrested in Long Beach, California. Three of the suspects
According to a federal indictment released by the US District
Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, the suspects – the
majority of whom were Nigerian – would initiate online
relationships with women and falsely claim to be US citizens
working overseas. They target women on dating websites and social
media platforms, and created dating profiles using fictitious
names, locations, and images.
The victims originated from a variety of locations, including
Seminole, Florida; Centerville, Ohio; and Pryor, Oklahoma. They
lost nearly $1.1 million in total, including one who sent cash and
goods worth $546,000.
This type of incident occurs more frequently than you might
believe, and while there are several scams online, few are as
destructive as these.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that Americans lost $143
million to romance scams in 2018, with the average victim losing
over $2,600. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet
Crime Commission (IC3) reported receiving over 15,000 allegations
of romantic scams in 2016. In 2020, romance scams reported a record
of $304 million in losses to the Federal Trade Commission. This is
an increase of around 50% over the previous year.
It’s not just the money that’s at stake in these types
of scams; the victims have generally developed an emotional
attachment to their scammers, believing them to be real and
prospective life mates. That only adds to their anguish when they
become heartbroken as the scammers make off with their money or
Most reports show that many of these schemes to defraud
vulnerable people looking for love start in Nigeria, where a
thriving underground economy of scammers sets up profiles on online
dating sites and sweet chats unwary victims into parting with their
What is a Romance Scam?
Dating or romance scam entails posing as a potential date or
love partner on the internet in order to connect with someone. A
fake picture of someone exceptionally attractive is frequently used
to lure people to respond to love propositions. To lure someone
into a scam, a fake profile is built with false information. The
creation of a false online identity is known as Catfishing. Emails
and other messages are exchanged once someone responds or appears
receptive to a romantic relationship. Over time, trust is
Following the establishment of confidence based on false
pretenses, solicitations for money or other items begin. Asking
someone to donate money or presents is a form of dating fraud. In
other situations, the fraud entails requesting that someone
transmit intimate images or provide personal identifying
information or financial account information. The intimate
photographs might be used to blackmail someone or placed on
pornographic websites, while the personal identifying information
could be utilized in identity theft frauds.
How Does a Dating or Romance Scam Work?
Scammers frequently conduct dating and romance scams via online
dating websites, but they may also contact victims via social media
or email. They have even been known to initiate contact with their
victims by phone. Catfishing is another term for these schemes.
Scammers frequently construct fictitious online personas to
entice you. They may use a made-up name or impersonate real,
trustworthy individuals such as military personnel, aid workers, or
professionals working abroad.
Scammers will express intense emotions for you in a short period
of time and will advise that you take the connection away from the
internet and onto a more private channel, such as phone, email, or
instant messaging. They frequently claim to be Australians or
residents of another western country but are actually traveling or
working in another country.
Scammers will go to great lengths to pique your interest and
earn your trust, including showering you with love words, providing
‘personal information,’ and even giving you gifts. They may
spend months cultivating what appears to be a lifetime romance and
may even pre-book airfare to visit you but never arrive.
Once they have acquired your trust and your defenses have been
breached, they will ask you for money, gifts, or your
banking/credit card information (subtly or directly). Additionally,
they may request that you submit photographs or videos of yourself,
maybe of a personal nature.
Frequently, the scammer will claim that they require the funds
for a personal emergency. For instance, they may assert that they
have a critically ill family member who requires immediate medical
attention, such as an expensive operation, or they may assert
financial difficulties as a result of an unlucky run of bad luck,
such as a failed business or street mugging. Additionally, the
fraudster may pretend they wish to visit you but are unable to do
so without your assistance in covering their airline or other
Occasionally, the scammer may give you important products such
as laptop computers and cell phones and would request that you
resend them to a different location. They will fabricate a reason
why they require your assistance in delivering the products, but
this is really a cover for their illicit activities. Alternatively,
they may request that you purchase the goods and ship them
yourself. You may even be required to accept funds into your bank
account and subsequently transfer them to another individual.
Occasionally, the scammer will inform you of a significant sum
of money or gold they are transferring out of their nation and give
you a portion. They’ll explain that they require your funds to
cover administrative costs or taxes.
Dating and romance scammers can also be a threat to your
physical safety, as they are frequently affiliated with
international criminal networks. Scammers may seek to lure victims
overseas, placing them in potentially perilous situations with
Regardless of the method used to defraud you, you could end up
losing a significant amount of money. Each year, billions of people
are duped globally by online dating and romance frauds. Money sent
to scammers is nearly always unrecoverable, and you may also
experience long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone
you believed loved you.
How To Avoid Online Dating Scams
You should be able to avoid online dating scams and maintain
greater general online safety once you know how to recognize if
someone is scamming you online. When using dating services and
social media to meet individuals, take the following
- Check and double-check everything. Conduct an
online search to verify the person’s identity, including their
name, photo, location, email address, and other facts.
- Slow down and seek advice from someone you can trust. Tell a friend or family member
about your issue, and talk with them about your future steps. A
romance scammer may try to isolate you from your friends and
family, or force you to make hasty decisions on your own. Don’t
be rushed into making a decision by a fraudster.
- Please do not transfer any money. Never give
money to an internet love interest through wire transfer, gift
card, or cash reload card. You’re not going to get it
- Report any money you’ve previously sent.
If you suspect you’ve sent money to a scammer, contact your
bank straight away.
Penalties For Dating or Romance Scams in Nigeria
Engaging in an online romance scam might result in criminal
charges being brought against you in court. This is especially when
the scam takes place across international borders. Internet fraud,
identity theft, and bank fraud, among other crimes, are all
prohibited under federal law. A charge of wire fraud or mail fraud
for exploiting the wire service or the postal service in a wire
transfer scam or any form of online romance scam can result in a
lengthy prison sentence.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I am a Victim of a Romance Scam in
Even if you are successful in prosecuting a scammer, it is
unlikely that you will be able to recover any of the money you have
lost. Unfortunately, more often than not, there is no one to answer
to or hold accountable following a romantic fraud. Along with a
wounded heart, you’ll be left with mountains of debt and the
hope that the person with whom you fell in love is genuine.
Romance scams are the most often reported type of scam. These
kinds of scams can happen to anyone. Consultation with a
compassionate bankruptcy lawyer will assist you in resetting this
Do I Need a Lawyer If I am Accused of a Romance Scam in
Romance fraud is a serious offense, even if you believe the
victim profited from the scam by getting your time and energy.
However, you may still face prison time and monetary penalties as a
result of your criminal acts. You may even face charges of identity
theft if your strategy involves catfishing and the use of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.