FBI warns on dating, romance Internet scams
An internet search for Mike Sency’s name immediately yields hundreds of accounts spread across social media and dating websites. Many of the profiles contain small differences, such as the photos used, the spelling of his name, even various details about his hobbies and interests. But they all share one common trait: They’re fake. Sency is used to it.
For years, pictures he posted online have been used to create fake profiles by people looking to scam others, often out of money, a practice generally known as catfishing.
On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few. Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts.
For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market. Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes. Now Facebook and Instagram provide fraudsters with greater reach and resources, enabling them to more convincingly impersonate others and more precisely target victims.
Officials from the United States military and the F.
Women warned of scam soldier dating sites
Be on the lookout for some of these operations that have fooled more than one person into giving money, personal information, and worse. Below in the following section you will find descriptions of scams that have been used on military members and their families in the past. But no matter what kind of con artist you encounter, there are some similar things you should watch out for that can alert you to a scam.
Pay close attention anytime someone you do not know does any of the following online or in person:. The Spanish Prisoner scam is a very old confidence trick that has been updated for the 21 st Century. The old-school version of this con trick was done face-to-face in many cases, but today the scam is run by people using social media.
Online romance scams cost Americans millions of dollars every year. Online dating investigation site Social Catfish helps break down how Nigerian such as missionary work, military service or any number of other excuses.
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Number of cases rose from to in only two years. Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Communications are exchanged between the scammer and victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have connected with the victim enough to ask for money.
At Match we want to ensure that you have a safe, friendly experience on the site. Remember that on Match you you are fully in control of your search and can choose to take things at your own pace. The approach that members take to get to know you will always vary. The sort of photos they use as well as the language of the personal ad can help you decide whether the member is genuinely looking for a partner or not.
Military romance scammers stole $ using Bryan Denny’s face. photos to pose as soldiers on Facebook and dating sites, where they.
According to the Better Business Bureau , romance scams are different than cat-fishing. While cat-fishing typically only involves deception, romance scam artists are intending to take money from a victim. In August, an Arizona man was sentenced to more than 15 years for creating several profiles on dating sites to convince women to give him thousands of dollars for fraudulent investments. Scam artists may try to make their victims believe they are in the military serving overseas and seeking a long-term relationship.
Brnovich said scam artists find ways to make their requests seem more plausible to victims. Luke Air Force Base in Glendale has received phone calls from civilians asking if a person they have met online is really stationed there, according to Maj. Becky Heyse. She said the Air Force base will look up the person’s name in its database to verify. If the person is not in the database, the civilian will be reminded to use good cybersecurity practices. Brnovich said romance scams are terrible for all victims, but also affect service members.
Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families. In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers.
It’s a problem that’s affecting all branches of service — not just the Army. Scam Alert Military experts are constantly warning service members about social media scams that can affect them and their families.
scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating sites, as United States military members attempting to ship gold bars home.
Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars. The conspirators told many of the victims their money would be reimbursed once the gold bars arrived in the United States. In one case, a conspirator claimed he was a U.
He sent her a fictitious airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her, along with a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as an Israeli citizen and UN delivery agent. The next day she died by suicide.
Online Dating Scams and How to Protect Yourself
Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community. Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause.
Here’s how to thwart online romance scams which involve a criminal pretending to be a member of the U.S. military to rip off an unsuspecting victim.
Military combat isn’t the only battle service members are fighting. Those were the findings of a recent data analysis by Comparitech. The consumer technology website analyzed scam data through the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Below are the fraud schemes that have led to the steepest losses for military personnel, according to Comparitech. In one notorious example, Colfax Capital Corp.
Impostor scams can run the gamut from fake employers to fraudsters impersonating authority figures. Romance schemes are the most commonly reported fraud , according to the U. In this case, predators may impersonate active-duty soldiers on dating sites and then sweet talk victims out of their cash. Predators have also lured service members into sharing compromising photos and videos, and then demanded money in exchange for not publicizing the embarrassing images.
Scammers have also impersonated employers in a bid to get veterans to purchase work equipment from a third party and then abscond with the money. Bad actors can steal service members’ identities and then use them to collect military benefits or file phony tax returns. In August, the Department of Justice charged five people in an identity theft and fraud scheme, wherein they allegedly used stolen identities to plunder millions of dollars in benefits from elderly and disabled veterans.
These scammers have set their sights on members of the military
Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first. Retired U. Army Col. The year-old husband and father spent half his life in the military. They use his photos to pose as soldiers on Facebook and dating sites, where they trick women into surrendering thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards in the name of love.
Federal investigators referenced this Instagram post in which Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Millville, posed with a stack of cash held up to his ear like a cellphone. Authorities allege he duped people out of cash in an online romance scam. Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Millville, is charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will have a first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon, the U.
Sarpong and his co-conspirators, several of whom live in Ghana, ran the scheme starting in January until this week. They set up phony profiles on various online dating sites posing as U. In one of the scenarios, the scammers would then ask for money to ship gold bars they had recovered while stationed in Syria back to the United States, authorities said.
There were no gold bars and the scammers kept the money, authorities said. The victims, who met the scammers via sites including Plenty of Fish, Ourtime. What followed was an elaborate story about how she could help get the gold to the U. She was told her money would be returned once the gold arrived.