After the pyramid scams, ponzi schemes, work from home scams and vanity scams, today I stumbled across a website called “Romance Scams” at http://www.romancescams.org. As we are all aware, it is very easy to assume an identity on the internet. Law enforcement agencies as well as some news agencies have used this tactic in the past to track down people involved in child pornography and the distribution thereof, scammers have used it on for instance facebook and even linkedin to attract a large number of connections.
In recent years, the internet has seen an ever increasing number of sites that individuals use to meet that love of their lives. whilst it opens up the opportunities and gets rid of geographical boundaries it also increases the risk of “meeting” someone that is actually not what he or she is purporting to be. In the not so far away future I have bee dealing with people that ended up being defrauded and even blackmailed by so called mail order brides for exotic destinations such as Russia and other Eastern European countries as well as some Asian and african countries. A good friend of mine tried his luck and I remember it well:
After months of chatting and calling, he was finally going to meet this lady that was going to be everything he ever looke for in a woman, she was cute, she was sexy, she was witty and at the same time of a soft character and vey caring. she did not have any children yet and seemed not to bring too much baggage from previous relationships. Knowing how much he was looking forward to it we waved him away when he went en route for a romantic diner with his newly found love. Within less than one and a half hour we saw him come back down the street again, to park his car and pop in at our place. He looked completely pale and shattered. Bu no means the girl loked anywhere near what he was made to belief and her pictures, according to the story, must have been at least ten years old. She was twice his size and covered with tatoes. She looked nothing like the pictures she’s been sending him and most of all she had seemed a completely different personality all together when they finally met. “I was so shocked at what saw and i was actually sorta afraid of her. I still took her into the car but when we were halfway, I thought this is not fair, so turned the car and dropped her off at her place again.” It was not long after that that he started receiving first apologetic text messages, when not answered they became abusive and even cntained threats. He almost lost his job because she had started to flood his phone at work and his cell phone with abusive messages, started spreading false rumours on the internet and the list goes on. It took police interference to make this woman stop.
No this is only an example and the range of romance scams is almosty as endless as the human imagination allows. Romance scams have been used to defraud victims, to obtain a working permit or visa, to blackmail victims. That is where Romance Scams aims to come in.
According to their Who We Are page:
“The mission of RomanceScams.org, a non-profit information and advocacy organization, is to create public awareness, provide accurate information and expertise to assist in the successful demise of online romance scams and help people learn, heal, and experience a safe on-line environment.
Romance Scams.org came into existence on June 6, 2005 with the hopes that we could help one or two people who might find us. Our beginning was with a Yahoo Group, set up as a place to talk about these scams. Since then over 30,000 people have sought and found assistance within the Yahoo Group. Over time we have gathered an extensive collection of information and resources for assistance of the victims of these scams.
Support, education and healing are what our group is all about. We support the victims of these crimes, either in a group setting or one on one, until they are ready to move forward from their experience. We spend a lot of time educating the victims so they do not fall victim of these sorts of scams again. We also work with the media in an effort to educate the general public about these scams.”
The Site claims to have well over 12,000 members with over 10,000 reported scammers. I had a look around the site and it seems like a great initiative with good infirmation about romance scams. I suggest you check it out before your next internet dating activities.
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