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Romance Scam Victims are the New Money Mules

Romance Scam Victims are the New Money Mules

Crime used to be an activity in which people voluntarily participated. If you were involved in crime, most of the time it was because you decided to do so despite the risks and the consequences. However, law-abiding citizens are currently being entangled in money laundering schemes without them being aware of what is really going on.  Internet crime is evolving at an alarming pace.

Criminals are now mastering the art of deceiving and manipulating people. According professional international private investigator data, instead of trying to beat the system by looking for “secret paths” to launder money, or using complex fraudulent organizations, criminals found that the better way to do it was through regular people who had no idea of the trap they were getting into.

How do online criminals manage to make their victims launder money for them?

Of course they do not ask. Most people would never agree to such a deal. That is why online criminals invest a lot of time and effort in fake romantic relationships. Fraudsters have discovered that vulnerable people can be manipulated if they are emotionally attached to someone. Originally, romance scammers would use their manipulation power to ask their victims to send funds to them. But as the “business” grows, they have extended ways to new and more profitable activities like money laundering, and other criminals have discovered the benefits as well of playing the romance card.

It is important to understand that online romance scammers are not just individuals trying to take advantage of a person, they are often organized in crime rings. Trying to get victims to send money is not their only purpose. These people are involved in many other kinds of online crime.  They know every corner of the dark web, they have many resources and they engage in many other criminal enterprises like company fraud. These are the same people who hack companies to then sell their sensitive data, trick managers and executives into sending money to them by means of social engineering. They know how to play their game and they are able to outsmart people from all backgrounds in very deceptive ways.  If you use the internet, you could potentially be contacted and manipulated.

How do people unknowingly become money mules?

Keep in mind that the victims have been manipulated to believe they are in a relationship. When the person they consider their loved-one asks them to receive funds and then send them somewhere else the request seems innocuous. The circumstances that the scammers describe usually vary, but they are all very believable: someone is trying to pay owed money but the international wire didn’t work, they cannot access their account from overseas so a relative is helping them direct the funds via a different method, the paycheck just couldn’t make it to their account so they need your assistance, etc. The stories are many, but the bottom line is that regardless of the excuse, the scammers are just trying to use your bank account as a means to mobilize dirty money.

Protect yourself!

When you decide to try online dating, be aware that protecting your personal information and privacy is the most important step. Never share personal details with people you meet online, regardless of the amount of time you have been communicating or how charming this person may seem. If you feel a real interest in someone you have been contacting online, hire a professional investigator to conduct a dating background check investigation as soon as possible. Background check investigations conducted by trained private investigators are meant to be prevention tools to minimize your risk, so the timing is important.  Real investigators uncover real evidence to keep you say, and to verify if the person you are communicating with is who he or she claims to be.  The sooner you know this, the better.

Make sure your devices, accounts and confidential personal information are secured. Remember that romance scammers are experts in extracting information, so avoid sharing data that can be a hint to bank account passwords or similar.  Don’t share your address, date of birth, etc.

Never agree to send or receive funds coming from a stranger who has not been properly verified. Losing money is bad enough, but being involved in crime is much worse.

Have you met someone online?  Contact us today for a free quote!

C. Wright
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