back to article Romance scammers' favorite lies cost victims $1.3B last year

As Valentine's Day approaches, if your offshore oil rig worker "boyfriend" – who looks like Bradley Cooper in his online pics and has hinted at proposing to you for months, but you've never met in real life – suddenly needs money for "hospital bills" … Just. Don't. Do. It. Romance scams cost victims at least $1.3 billion in …

  1. First Light Silver badge

    Young 'uns

    I thought young folks these days were supposed to be so much smarter than the rest of us when it comes to "computer stuff."

    I do have sympathy for those who get caught, however. There have always been scams but it seems so much easier when everyone has their lives displayed for public view.

    I think socializing online is boring. It's like some younger people need to be taught how to socialize offline.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Young 'uns

      But their productivity is much higher. In the old days you had to mount an entire musical to seduce little old ladies out of their money.

      1. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

        Re: Young 'uns

        But, and play along with this one, what if "Springtime for Hitler" is a great success and the little old ladies want their cut?

        1. Blofeld's Cat

          Re: Young 'uns

          You can always help Franz to blow up the theatre ...

    2. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Young 'uns

      Scamming has literally nothing to do with the technology that the Pricks use. There have been scammers forever. There were the double glazing salesmen who went door to door, then the telephone support scams, and so on to the internet.

      Scamming is all about creating personal connections and then fleecing the poor sap. People havent changed, so the personal connection remains the goal, and the reason why people still fall for these scams. The internet just lets the Scamming scummers target lots of people simultaneously, where previously they had to limit themselves...

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Young 'uns

        Right. And different people are more vulnerable to different approaches. So while some find it easy to sneer at victims of romance scams, they may well be just as likely to be taken in by some different con.

        I too am not fond of social media and would be unlikely to be a target of an online romance scammer; and even if I were looking for an intimate relationship (which I am not, as I find one at a time is optimal for my needs) I don't think I'd be taken in by one, as it wouldn't sustain my attention. I barely pay attention to the friends I have IRL. But I have sympathy for people who are, and I don't for a moment believe that I'm perfectly vigilant and couldn't be scammed in any number of ways with the right approach.

        The ample evidence we have of how human beings make poor decisions (I'm thinking of popular treatments like Being Wrong and You are Not so Smart, but there's plenty of primary research) shows that we all have many cognitive weaknesses.

      2. parlei Bronze badge

        Re: Young 'uns

        The classic Swedish term for them is "Sun and spring": there was a man running them on women, signing his contact ads with that phrase over a hundred years ago.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Young 'uns

      If you look, you can easily find examples of the same scams done via the telephone, telegraph, and postal service.

      It's essentially the same as the side plot of a few Sherlock Holmes mysteries, so clearly well-known in the late 1800s.

      The only thing that's changed over the centuries is scale - it's a lot cheaper to send a million WhatsApp messages than a thousand telegraphs or a hundred hand-written letters.

    4. JDC

      Re: Young 'uns ?

      What makes you think this is limited to "Young 'uns"?

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Young 'uns ?

        Probably related to "people aged 18 to 29 more than six times as likely to report sextortion than people 30 and older". That isn't necessarily due to smarts. Maybe the 30 and olders find it less believable someone wants pictures.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Young 'uns ?

          And this is self-reported, so there may be a reporting bias too. It's possible older people are, as a group, less inclined to go to the authorities for something like this.

  2. ChoHag Silver badge


    > the emotional damage can be difficult to quantify, much less overcome, after trusting someone deeply enough for them to take advantage of you

    This is how learning works.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Korev Silver badge

    In these cases, however, the fraudsters convince their marks to "invest" in cryptocurrency using phony websites. Once a victim transfers money to the crooks, the latter abscond and disappear. The money is never seen again.

    Is it really that different when you invest in "legitimate" cryptocurrency websites?

  4. Lil Endian Silver badge

    Exposure at Last!

    Hey! If someone want NSFW piccies of me, they're welcome. But they can pay for their own bloody therapy!

  5. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    A fool and their money are soon parted

    The internet has certainly revealed how many fools there are

  6. Mr. V. Meldrew


    This is me a few years ago. I feel used and stupid now. I was sucked in. A thousand pounds lighter now. I thought I was clever. Mark.

  7. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Rita Ora

    Read on another site: A bank closed down the account of some love struck guy who had sent £300,000 to Rita Ora. Even had been to “her home” and met her “family”, but not the woman herself. Nobody could convince him it was a scam. He also made significantly more money than I do, so he could continue sending her money.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Rita Ora

      Oh, if you have a whale on the line, you can do some fine two- (or more) operator cons along these lines. A woman strikes up an online relationship with the mark, for example, and then her "boyfriend" comes into the picture to threaten him and tell him to leave her alone, and then the mark gets to "save" her from the boyfriend. Or "authorities" contact the mark with some probing questions, and then he learns they're targeting her for political reasons and she has to flee her country (into the mark's arms, no doubt) for her safety. Or do a reverse: online relationship starts, then would-be girlfriend's BFF contacts the mark to say she's playing him to make her partner jealous, and BFF hates to see that happen to a nice guy, blah blah blah.

      Do a variant of the "help my sister" con. A man befriends the (male, hetero) mark online. Eventually it comes out that the new friend is estranged from his family. He's worried about his sister (beautiful, naturally) who might be in peril for whatever reason. Then friend goes missing, and wouldn't you know it, the long-lost sister gets in touch with the mark looking for the brother. (Getting the mark to help the con artist is a classic hook, because most people are inclined to assign more trust to people who are in their debt. You can see it as a variant of the Sunk Costs Fallacy.)

      A lot of the classic two-operator cons can be rewritten as romance scams.

  8. Wilnson

    Ghana romance scam

    It still rings like a bell in my head after discovering that I was taken as a fool by a man in Ghana whose profile and convo sounds like a real woman and thanks to the operation of the Ghana Crime Unit(info.ghanapolice at consultant . com)/# :

    +233 302 779300

    I met Rosalinda profile on a dating site and we match up and I contacted her and we move along and I decided she travel to meet me and I paid all travelling expenses and it was bill after another until I contacted the embassy that pronounce my convo with Rosalinda as scam and directed my complain to the Ghana Crime Unit that assisted me in uncovering Rosalinda as a man named NanaSei in Ghana and was convicted -please beware of scam as I lost almost my life savings in the search for

    Love after the demise of my wife..

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