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The model or nurse may need money to pay lawyers’ fees to get a restraining order against an abusive ex.
Or maybe the scammer doesn’t ask for money at all but requests that the victim receive money and then transfer it to another account, giving marginally plausible reasons.“It’s common for victims to become money mules where they are unwittingly helping facilitate other crimes,” Mr. “There have been prosecutions of victims who kept receiving and sending money even when they were firmly told they were working for crooks.” Yet prosecutions of romance scammers have been rare, thanks to the anonymity of the Internet and the difficulty of tracing wired funds.
They may assume the identity of actual soldiers deployed overseas or pretend to be engineers working on projects in far-flung locales. “They are able to manipulate the victim into believing they have found their one true soul mate.”Victims are as likely to be men as women, young, old or middle-aged, gay or straight, highly or poorly educated.
Scammers have also been known to pose as university professors, clergy members, doctors, chefs, swimsuit models, waitresses, nurses and librarians.“They have a canny ability to mirror what the victim seems to need and to create a sense of intimacy very quickly,” said Debbie Deem, a victim specialist at the F. After a few days, weeks or even months of romantic and sometimes hotly erotic back-and-forth via email, text or Skype, come the requests for money.
When we first studied online dating habits in 2005, most Americans had little exposure to online dating or to the people who used it, and they tended to view it as a subpar way of meeting people.
Today, nearly half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner via online dating – and attitudes toward online dating have grown progressively more positive.
In the latest twist, scammers coax victims into taking explicit photos and videos of themselves and then threaten to distribute them to their Facebook or Skype contacts if they don’t pay them money or help them launder money.“We’re seeing a lot of these sextortion cases lately,” said Wayne May, an administrator who gives advice to the lovelorn on the website Scam Survivors.
Or it could be some dude at a Starbucks texting victims on his cellphone, or a pajama-clad woman in her apartment sending bogus love bombs from her laptop.But whether they’re looking for sexcapades or long walks on the beach, the desire for companionship and connection makes people vulnerable to a most 21st-century crime: the online romance scam, which bilked victims of all ages and orientations out of more than 0 million last year, according to the F. I.“The drive to find a preferred mate is extremely powerful,” said Lucy Brown, a clinical professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who studies the brain activity of people in love.“It’s a reflexive urge, like hunger and thirst,” which can cloud judgment and make people less likely to question the motives of an online match.“They present quite a saccharine image of romance and marriage using the image of the lion and lioness together, supporting each other, being best friends and companions.”The F. That puts law enforcement officials in a bind when lovestruck victims so willingly and willfully participate in ruses.
“People don’t want to know what’s behind the curtain,” said Mr.
AARP has been fielding similarly cringe-worthy distress calls from seniors who exposed themselves in front of a webcam.