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Romance Scam Victims Become Unsuspected Money Launderers

Romance Scam Victims Become Unsuspected Money Launderers

What could possibly go wrong, is the question thousands of victims of romance scams have asked themselves after accepting a contact invitation from a stranger. Our private investigators have insisted for years that there are many things that can -and often will – go wrong when people communicate with strangers online without taking the necessary precautions to avoid being a victim.

People from all over the world contact private investigators every day to let us know they have been communicating with someone they’ve met overseas or via the Internet, and they have become concerned about the person’s intentions or true identity.  There is a good reason to feel uneasy about this kind of situation.  In some cases, money is being stolen and moved from one account to another, from one country to another. The criminals involved are trying to erase their tracks without raising any suspicions, and in order to achieve this goal romance victims play an important role.

Recent news have been alerting people that being a romance scam victim could be much worse than expected.  Most victims think that they will be able to tell a real person from a scammer right away, and that the worst that can happen is that they will lose their time.  Some people think they are too smart or too cautious, and it could never happen to them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

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 “invest” 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 business email compromise fraud.  They know how to play their game and they are able to outsmart people from all backgrounds in very deceptive ways.

How can you be participating in a money laundering scheme without knowing it?

If you ever receive and transfer funds for someone else – especially a stranger you met online – you are at risk of participating in money laundering. Criminals will use romance scam victims to divert dirty money. From one victim’s account to another, to purchase goods that they can resell like technology items, and then back to their pockets. People are being victimized twice.

When you decide to try online dating, be aware that protecting your personal information and privacy is the first required 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 s are meant to be prevention tools, to minimize you risk, so the timing is important.

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.   Protect yourself and your family by posting less online.  And lastly, never send or receive funds to anyone you have not personally met or who has been properly verified. Losing money is bad enough, without getting involved in money laundering.

C. Wright
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