How do they do it?

By creating fake profiles on legitimate internet dating services.

Approaching you after having developed a profile which will appeal to you (after you have indicated the type of person you’re looking for on your profile).

They will interrogate you to establish your financial position and support network.

They will seek to isolate you from your support network and quickly inundate you with a great deal of attention making you feel very special.

They often claim to be retired servicemen or professionals working overseas in UK, USA or even elsewhere in Australia and will use an attractive photograph in the profile.

They often have a child to care for – often claimed to be widowed.

They exploit loneliness and the fear of ageing alone.

They may take many months, to build what seems like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come. Once they have gained your trust they will ask you (either subtly or directly) for money, gifts or your banking/credit card details.

They will pretend to need these for a variety of reasons:

  • Financial hardship;
  • To move money, gold or precious metals to your country;
  • To purchase an airline ticket to visit you;
  • Visa application processing fee;
  • Medical bills for relatives;
  • Urgent medical bills for themselves after a severe accident (you may be contacted by the alleged doctor)

They may also seek to introduce you to a relative or trusted entity who presents you with a unique business investment opportunity which will yield great returns.

They may seek to send you money and transfer money into your account which they then require you to send back – making you an international money launderer.

They may seek to make online purchases in your country and have the goods delivered to your premises for on-forwarding to them – these purchases have been made with compromised credit cards and you become an international property mule.

How to protect yourself..

  • ALWAYS consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam
  • Check their IP address when possible
  • Google image or Tineye image search to see if the image has been taken from the internet
  • Look for an internet profile
  • Ask them to send you a photograph of them holding the local daily paper
  • Always confide and discuss your situation with a friend
  • Never meet without a friend beside you
  • Never send money overseas
  • Always seek independent legal and financial advice before investing
  • Never disclose bank details to a person you haven’t met
  • Never reveal too much personal information
  • Never allow your address to be a deliver point for purchases
  • Never agree to transfer money
  • Don’t trust Skype messages (can be pre-recorded)
  • Don’t fall for the fantasy dream

This information courtesy of the Queensland Police Fraud and Cyber Crime Group.

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