The world is shifting in many ways. One of them is that online scammers are starting to grow their business in new countries (or criminals in these countries are adopting romance fraud as their new modus operandi). For a long time, the highest risk countries have been Ghana, Nigeria, Russia and the Philippines. International private investigators keep a track of the incidence of online romance scams based on the amount of cases conducted and the evidences of fraud found. At current times, Morocco and Egypt are emerging as two of the countries with more romance scam incidence.
Online relationships are known to be very convenient, but also very tricky and potentially dangerous. It is not a coincidence that the Fair Trade Commission in the U.S. received reports of losses surpassing $201 million U.S. dollars in just 2019. It’s important to understand this is only a small fraction of the actual number, as most cases go unreported. Those who have not been victim often underestimate the scammers, and the victims, arguing that romance scams are obvious. Our investigators’ experience is completely different. Romance scammers have evolved and learned how to conduct very elaborate schemes that can fool anyone. And now the greatest problem is that they are expanding!
Watch out for these red flags!
Investigators in Egypt and Morocco say that the first red flag (considering the current situation) is being in communication with someone from any of these countries. Whether the person claims to be a native from Egypt or Morocco, or just temporarily there for business, the sole mention of the country should be an indicator to be cautious. This does not mean that people have to stop an online relationship just because of their country of origin, but it is important to open your eyes and be skeptical. The increasing cases is a sign that there are more chances of stumbling with a criminal.
Another important red flag is the request to send money or receive money on their behalf. Scams will always involve a financial transaction, so regardless of the reason, when money is involved it is time to stop and verify. In other cases, criminals will never ask for money, but instead gain your trust and steal your information or data or identity. Having an open line of communication with a criminal is a very bad idea, and your phone or computer can be easily compromised. Lastly, there are many cases of blackmail for those involved in web cam relationships, so proceed with caution.
Verify and stay safe!
If you met someone who is from or currently in Cairo or Casablanca, your best option is to hire a professional investigator to verify their identity. Most of the times romance scammers do not use their real identities, and instead use fake personas to reach out to their victims and not be caught. A thorough online dating verification will provide evidence to prove if that person is who they claim to be.
An important thing to consider is that reliable evidence can only be found locally in both Morocco and Egypt, which is why having investigators on the ground is so important. There are no reliable databases that can be consulted remotely, and certainly an internet search is not a proper way to verify. But local private investigators can verify directly at the appropriate government offices, and they can also contact employers or schools if necessary to verify employment and education.
Keep in mind that online dating sites and social networks are the places where most Moroccan and Egyptian scammers find their victims. Be sure to protect your private personal information, and when in doubt always verify! Be safe, and talk to a professional about how to avoid fraud.
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