Spotting an online dating scam is not easy nowadays. Romance scams have become part of the daily news and a trendy topic in social media, television, etc. The reason why we see alerts everywhere and tons of articles talking about it is because it has a serious financial and social impact. Millions of people fall prey every year, and yet many still think that love fraud is something they´ll be able to spot right away and walk away from it. But the truth, based on victims’ experience and on the experience of international investigators, is that love fraudsters know how to do a very good job, especially in Romania. These are experienced criminals who are not easy to detect.
Although romance scams have become an endemic problem worldwide, there are certain countries and regions known to be high risk due to the amount of cases of fraud. Wymoo investigators have found that Romania is one of the high risk countries for scams, and if fraud continues to grow at the same rate, it may become one of the top regions for love fraud along with West African countries.
One of the most dangerous characteristics about Romanian romance scams is not the amount of cases but the techniques used. Every country has its own signature and not all scammers have been schooled the same way. Romania is a country of highly educated people, who are internet savvy and good with computers. Unlike other high risk zones which are developing countries, Romania is part of the European Union and one of the countries in the EU with greater economic growth. The motivations of the crime rings dedicated to online scam are definitely not the same as those in Africa, where many people are just trying to survive. Romanian scammers have much more resources and a very well structured industry of fraud, which makes them even more dangerous.
More than advanced fee fraud
Most people know that love fraudsters gain people´s trust by using dating websites, chatting with the victims for a while and then at a certain point requesting to send money for an emergency or hassle they are going through, with the promise of paying them back. The media and different authorities constantly send scam alerts to make people wary of the risks. Of course, people need to watch out for these fraudsters, but things can get much worse than losing a few hundred dollars when it comes to Romanian crime online. Internet criminals use sophisticated techniques, often hacking into victims’ computers, using proxy servers and IP masking software, and in some cases, even meet their victims in person. Authentic looking documentation and IDs are also used to gain your trust.
The scamming industry has developed and is now connected to other types of fraud like money laundering. Romanian investigators in Bucharest report cases where the victims, unknowingly and out of mere kindness, have facilitated new ways to divert funds and to let criminals get away with their plans. Some of the victims report receiving checks which they had to cash and deposit in other accounts. Some had given the fraudsters access to their bank accounts and online accounts.
Identity theft is always a risk, but increasingly blackmail and extortion is used. If you’re communicating with someone from Romania, be very skeptical about turning on your webcam. Better yet, keep it covered with tape to avoid criminals accessing your webcam remotely.
It is also important to keep in mind that online criminals from Eastern Europe, like Romanians, are well known for their hacking abilities. Talking to a stranger in an online dating site could mean giving full access to your computer so that they can gather all your personal data, or install malware to operate other types of fraud directly from your computer. Receiving a simple photo or video could be a potential hazard in these cases. Be careful about opening attachments and clicking on links.
What can be done to avoid being victim?
The only way to stop an online criminal is through prevention. If you have met someone from Romania and start to become interested, get a background check investigation as soon as possible, regardless of the fact that this person has requested money or not. Many victims wait to get a background check until they see a red flag, but sometimes that is too late, and the damage is done. If you meet someone online, have them verified by a professional private investigator with a proven track record. Wymoo International has highly trained investigators in 100 countries, including Romania.
Be safe and be smart. In Romania, get the facts and then decide.
© 2015 Wymoo International
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