So they have no idea that these scammers are out there.” While Mays admits that they can’t get victims’ money back, they can help get victims out of scary situations, especially when romance scammers resort to extortion.
The most common complaint Scam Survivors receive is for “sextortion,” where scammers make tapes of sexual encounters with their victims, then press them for money in exchange for keeping the video private.
Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake.
They ask you to: Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine?
Five years ago, he and a small team of international volunteers, including Firefly, created Scam Survivors, a hotline and information resource center for victims of online scams — mostly, as it turns out, romance scams. “With the romance scam, it could be someone who's been married for a number of years.
The site tends to be a last resort for victims who are afraid to go to the police, or to tell anyone in their life what’s happened, because they’re ashamed. Their partner has either died or they've divorced and they've just started looking at online dating.
But soon after, she learned that the son had had an accident at school and needed help paying hospital bills — urgently.
“Of course I was sending money again to Western Union,” Firefly says.According to Mayes, they’ve handled more than 14,000 such cases in the past three years. Go deactivate all your social media accounts,” he says.In Mays’ experience, romance scammers typically target 30 to 40 people a day, and will eventually move on to easier prey if they encounter resistance.Her new boyfriend had a complicated backstory: He was an American soldier serving in Iraq, and he had a son living in Ghana.But she had revealed to her new online beau how much she wanted children, and soon his 14-year-old son was emailing her.“You pretend to be a victim and string them along, try to get them to waste as much of their time, money, and resources as you can,” he says.