This past week we had a couple of visitors in our office where the ex-wife is involved with a possible romance scam with someone claiming to be a General located in Nigeria. Unfortunately, your BBB® has seen this movie before.
The General seems to have his funds tied up and is unable to pay for a plane ticket to come to the US to see his honey. The “victim” continues to send funds, but more is always requested, and she refuses to believe that she’s being scammed. Our visitor became belligerent when we tried to explain that she may be getting ripped off, and she stormed out.
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to accept that they’re being played, and that there’s no “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow, or in this case, the man of her dreams. What’s truly sad is that her dreamboat will most likely turn into a nightmare.
Since the 90s, we have been warning consumers about the so-called “Nigerian Letter Scam,” which involves a story of someone in distress who is related to a high government official, prince, or a business leader needing to move millions of dollars out of the country to a safe haven in the United States.
In the case of romance scams, predators may lurk on dating sites looking for emotionally vulnerable people who are lonely and desiring love and affection. First we had newspaper classifieds, and today we have online personal ads, and specific dating sites where people can search for that special someone. The key to remember is that there are dishonest people who will create false profiles that they hope will attract that perfect person to fall for their devious scheme.
At some point in the communication process, they will want you to leave the site and communicate directly through email. They will want to exchange personal photos, and when it’s right, they will declare that you are the perfect person for them and desire a personal meeting. We’ve even heard reports where the perpetrator of the scam states that they are dealing with a life-threatening situation and are needing money for treatments. As in the example above, they may say their funds are tied up in a nation’s financial institution where they can’t access them, and they request that funds be wired to them.
The best advice that we can provide is to guard your heart, and don’t be taken in by someone who promises their undying love after a couple of online message exchanges. Sometimes these schemes are more dangerous than just losing your money. If you feel like you’ve been victimized, contact your local police or sheriff for assistance.
For more information regarding scams or to report a scam, visit bbb.org/scamtracker. You may also visit bbb.org/evansville for information on businesses or charities and check out their accreditation status. As always, start with your BBB where you can Start With Trust®.