Nat Geo’s Trafficked With Mariana Van Zeller: Romance Scammers In West Africa Use Black Magic To Cast Love Spells On Victims | #youtubescams | #lovescams | #datingscams

According to the Singapore Police Force, in 2021, 1,099 cases of internet loves scams were reported, a spike from 2020’s 276, with victims losing about S$46.9 million.

Police added that at least 90 percent of scams originate from overseas: these virtual swindling Casanovas can be operating as near as Malaysia to as far as — as revealed on Season 2 of the National Geographic docu-series Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller — in West Africa.

In the Romance Scams episode, the Los Angeles-based, Portuguese-born investigative journo’s search for cyber-romance fraudsters takes her to Kumasi, a city in southern Ghana, where she meets a gang of tenacious sweet-talkers who make a killing from preying on lovelorn targets — or ‘clients’ as the victims are called — on dating apps and social media.

One trickster, who goes by Odo (Ghanaian for ‘love’), claims he has duped 22 women in the US, Canada, Germany, Poland, and even — wait for it — Singapore. Our fair city would get namechecked again by another hustler. “I remember perfectly well when [Singapore] was mentioned,” says van Zeller, speaking to via Zoom from her LA home. “One of the cases was a scammer who had been in a relationship with a woman in Singapore and he had scammed her for a lot of money.”

She continues, “I do think that fact that you guys speak English in Singapore and you are better off in many ways than many countries in West Africa, where the scams take place, [make you easy marks]. We heard also a lot about countries in Europe, even in South America. The reports you read about scamming are usually targeting Americans, but I was surprised by how widespread it is — as long as you master the language of whatever the country [the victims are from], you’ll be able to scam people.”

In the episode, van Zeller also witnesses first-hand how these well-funded and technologically savvy bluffers operate. Their MO includes using scripts — like “choose-your-own-adventure books” — to bait ‘clients’ based on their responses in text conversations.

And what if the unsuspecting love-seekers request for a live video call? No problem. They would arrange an online meeting in a rented apartment and pass that off as their fake lovers’ home Anytime proof of existence is required, a team of forgers will provide the necessary documents at the drop of a hat.

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