scams cost victims over a billion dollars a year. But you don’t have to be one
Walt Kane has an exclusive look at romance scams, and how to avoid them, from a
man who used to do it for a living.
fastest time it took me to get money from a woman is four days,” says
who asked News 12 to call him Chris, is a scammer from Nigeria, who says he’s
made over $30,000 from victims. His specialty – romance scams or catfishing.
older women, you know, maybe 50s, 40s, 60s, 70s. Most of them are divorced.
Their kids are grown up, and they’ve left home, so they just live alone and
they need someone to be with,” he says.
he created several fake social media profiles, usually claiming to be in the
is this military guy. I take down his pictures to my phone, and I use his
pictures to create a fake profile,” Chris says.
But when it
came to luring in victims, Chris says his favorite approach was to use online
gaming apps, like chess or Scrabble.
you play some of those games, you have the opportunity to text the person
you’re talking to. So it just makes it easy for some people to create a fake
profile for that game,” he says.
take long for the romance scammers to show up. One, like Chris, claimed to be
an Air Force engineer. Another said he was a widower, raising a son on his own.
He wasted no time asking our producer for her marital status, then started
calling her “my beautiful.”
when he was scamming, he’d ask for money within three or four days.
tell them I’m booking a flight, I’m coming out there. They should pay for the
hotel. I’ll pay for the flight. They should send me the money for the hotel.
After I tell them, I’m gonna come, I’ll tell them, ‘My boss called me and I’ve
been deployed, so I’ll not be able to come anymore.'”
the Kane In Your Corner a training manual, which he says Nigerian scam rings
use to train new members. It offers advice on how to research potential
victims, and how to approach them.
So, how can
you protect yourself from romance scams? Here’s what the Secret Service
what you post online; scammers could use that information to target you;
tries to start up an online friendship, do an image search on their photo;
suspicious of anyone who says they want to meet but then keeps making excuses;
send money to someone you’ve only met online.
former scammer, says he now works for a company called Social Catfish, which
tries to prevent romance scams.