As per the judgment passed this week in the courts of United States, a group of nine people is charged in connection with a scheme to defraud elderly Americans out of more than 2.5 US dollars. This group of convicts, that has people from countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and US, would scour social media platforms like Facebook and Google to find people looking for friends or romantic partners. By pretending to be trustworthy allies who were just in need of some money, this group of scammers would manipulate victims into giving them a hefty sum of money. The Justice Department revealed that the size of one transaction would clock upto thousands of dollars.
This case is the latest entry to the humongous pool of what are popularly known as ‘romance scams’. Thieves scouring and exploiting lonely web users to steal their money is a pattern that’s growing outright rampant with the passing of time. In just 2020, a total of $304 million was reported in losses by the victims of these scams. It must be noted that this figure doesn’t include the losses that were not officially reported, which the authorities believe are sizeable in their own right.
The foundation for such scams is laid on platforms like dating apps and other social media platform with high usage rate. Using their skill to manipulate, these thieves would deepen their connection with the victim, and once the conversation is intimate enough, they would pull the trigger. Another factor that must be borne in mind is that there is a variety of scams that fall under this niche. While some might be the typical romance scams, there are others scenarios too that are led by a different dynamic. Cases where scammers create a fictitious person along with a perfect bait to get the money are also real, irrespective of how unbelievable they sound.
In the light of growing number of such cases, US law enforcement agencies plan to take stringent actions. However, the authorities also want people to practice basic awareness, so that we can put up more of a collective fight against such scammers.–