SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO’S JANUARY 2024 FRAUD ALERT: LOVE IS JUST A CLICK AWAY…
Shortly following the start of the new year, holiday scammers tuck away their fraudulent Christmas emails, to be used again next year, and begin preparing their romance scam materials.
Romance scams have become more popular and more deceptive and, as developing an online relationship takes a bit of time, the Valentine’s Day scammers are already grooming potential victims.
Messages from unknown individuals, long-lost friends and lonely military members may begin to appear in your email box, on your social media pages and, potentially, via text.
Using a variety of fictitious stories, these scammers emerge from the corners of cyberspace and attempt to befriend you. Soldiers overseas, international aid workers and diplomats stationed far away suddenly begin to feel the pangs of loneliness and long for a meaningful relationship.
Of course, you can’t meet these potential romantic partners as you are unlikely to board a plane for the Malatya Province in Turkey, so daily email or text interactions will just have to suffice “until they return home.”
Once they believe that they have sufficiently groomed their victim, they begin to issue declarations of love, promises of meeting at a later date…possibly mentions of engagement and/or marriage. After all, they’ve never met anyone like you and can’t allow a love like this to slip away.
Once a relationship has been established, requests for favors, for money, for gift cards enter the conversations. They may ask their victim to accept a package that will be sent to their home and ask that the victim pay the shipping fee. They may send a check to their victim asking them to cash it and wire back just a portion of the funds. As you know, cashing checks in the mountainous regions of Malatya is extremely difficult.
Scammers may request airfare so they can finally come to see you…to hold you in their arms…to be with the most amazing individual that they have ever encountered. Scammers may be in need of funds “until next payday” or to pay for an unanticipated expense.
Victims may be asked to send money using payment apps, to send cryptocurrency, gift cards or even cash.
While much of the content contained in this warning may seem nonsensical and absurd, rest assured that by sending scores of emails to potential victims, a lonely and gullible recipient somewhere will be drawn in. Seniors, individuals who have lost loved ones and those desperately searching for love are especially vulnerable.
Please consider discussing these scams with vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors.
Report any suspected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.