Victims need to be told: If the person is not willing to meet them in the first month, move on to find someone who will! Some sites do a better job of actively monitoring for fraudulent activity. Zoosk , a dating app with 40 million online profiles and members in 80 countries, lets users make a video of their face with the app that a human moderator will then view and match up with the submitted photos. Facebook, the largest social network by magnitudes, is also a playground for scammers. Many scam victims told HuffPost that they feel Facebook is not sufficiently proactive when it comes to weeding out and blocking the fraudsters.
Facebook declined to give any details about its risk mitigation systems or say how many compromised accounts are caught. The site asks users to report posts or messages that ask them to inappropriately share personal information or send money. Voss declined to discuss how many reports it receives. The issue of what responsibility social networks, including Facebook, bear for enabling scammers is one that troubles many victims.
Grover, of ScamHaters, thinks that Facebook could be more cooperative in policing its site. Facebook declined to respond to questions regarding its general criteria for removing pages or why it has taken down some specific sites, but individuals do appear to be using the site to facilitate financial scams. It had grown to almost 1, members over the course of several hours. When it was reported, Facebook took it down.
But as soon as one page is removed, another seems to replace it. HuffPost also found this page called Yahoo Boys, which Facebook has since removed. But, he noted, sometimes it is done more openly. HuffPost also found five active Facebook profiles using different names but displaying the same photos. Two of the five were taken down before we could screenshot them; here are the three that remained.
MORE IN LIFE
Scam victim sites suggested that the man in the photo is actually a singer in the U. Facebook declined to comment on the specifics of these screenshots. For example, when someone receives a friend request, our systems are designed to check whether the recipient already has a friend with the same name, along with a variety of other factors that help us determine if an interaction is legitimate. The FBI said it does not comment on the policies and practices of private companies, and a Justice Department spokesman said that as a matter of policy, it would not publicly discuss prosecution strategies.
Jones, the hypnotherapist whose photos are regularly lifted from Facebook, argues however that if the site really tried, it could quash the problem entirely. He thinks that the large sites have programs in place that thwart scams pre-emptively and thus reduce the risk to users. Still, ZeroFox conducted a study of money scams on Instagram last year and found that scams were being created at an estimated rate three times higher than the rate at which they were being taken down.
Every digital device connected to the internet has an Internet Protocol address, a unique set of numbers that reveals, among other information, the country in which it is connected. Anyone can check an IP address , though some browser extensions will send an alert if someone is doing that. So savvy scammers use a virtual private network to hide their IP addresses. Scammers like to move their conversation with their victims off Facebook or online dating services and onto other messaging platforms where, unbeknownst to their victims, they can organize all their communications.
Leaving Facebook as soon as possible also protects the scammer from the risk that their fake profile may be reported and taken down. Scammers never want to appear on camera in a live video chat, but will sometimes send a prerecorded video that shows what a loving dad they are or how handsome they look captaining their sailboat.
Obviously, these videos are stolen, too. There are multiple YouTube videos on how to do it. Virtual Cam Whores , a service that creates customizable video, can also add a layer of authenticity. For example, if the victim asks for a kiss, the scammer can command the image on the screen to blow a kiss. Still, some would argue, how can so many people mistake what is a prerecorded video for a live webcam? The answer is as nontechnological as it gets: Victims must be willing to suspend disbelief.
Criminals have also used the services of pre-digital age businesses to help their scams flourish. Western Union employees have even been accused of knowingly participating in those scams. The Justice Department will handle the returning of money. The process for filing a claim has not yet been established. They essentially fell in love with a photo and turned a blind eye to their own doubts and suspicions, many told HuffPost. They ignored obvious red flags: Victims believe because they want to believe, experts said.
A study in the U. They may have successful business or professional careers. But the study said they tend to be unduly open to persuasion by others and less able to control their emotions.
Whitty, the cyberpsychologist, found that many victims were survivors of abusive relationships. To preserve the relationship, they became good at explaining away, or simply refusing to remember, the actions that hurt them. We need to be on our guard both for ourselves and for our friends and family. This ability to suspend disbelief is one reason that con artists prefer to focus on people who have fallen for scams in the past.
If you have any worries that something might be a scam … it very likely is. The subjects of romance scams are often blamed for their own victimization. The victim-blaming is something that needs to change, said Jan Marshall of Australia, a victim herself who now advocates for others through her website Romance Scam Survivor. Nobody signs up to be preyed upon.
There is a small body of research indicating that fraud victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder on par with those who have suffered from violent crime. They develop depression and psychological trauma.
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Some have attempted or died by suicide. And some get angry enough at having been scammed that they fight back. The internet is ripe with scam-catchers hoping to educate the public about the dangers out there and spare others from being victimized. Some former victims find empowerment in scam-baiting, a practice in which they lure scammers and then play along as if they were being fooled.
It has an active forum where baiters can swap stories, and it has been recommended on Facebook more than 18, times. This past February, a federal judge in Illinois handed down a year sentence to Nigerian national Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, a year-old scam boss based in South Africa, for his role in multiple international romance scams from to After he was indicted in the U. He pleaded guilty to all eight counts of the indictment on March 2, , following two days of trial.
The government has no way of knowing how much money Sunmola and his associates ultimately stole, the U. He owned at least four homes in South Africa that were sold so he could pay his victims. His crimes forced at least three women to file for bankruptcy. Several more lost their jobs and their homes and were left in financial ruin. A few had even purchased wedding dresses. Two told the court they had seriously contemplated killing themselves.
For at least two of the women, the abuse was sexual as well: Sunmola stole pictures of their naked bodies that he used to extort money from them and then posted those images online for anyone to see, said the U. Whitty testified that the victims had suffered severe psychological damage.
Perhaps what they say is true: And millions of people get scammed that way every year. If you have any concern that the message could be true, do not click the link in the email. Usually, though, you can tell at a glance that these emails are fake. If it purports to be from Yahoo, it probably includes a graphic of the outdated logo:.
Same thing as phishing, except that it arrives by text message SMS instead of email. I need your help flying back home and paying my hotel bills! It may even be a brief phone call instead of an email. Be careful to pose a question that requires more than knowledge of basic family information e. Or a loan with an impressively high credit limit. All you have to do is pay the annual fee up front. Can you guess what happens next? You never hear from them again. There never was a credit card or loan. You just won an overseas sweepstakes—one that you never even entered!
How lucky can you be? And get this—once you supply your mailing address, you actually do get a check for a huge amount of money! They tell you to deposit it, but in the meantime, send them a check for a couple hundred bucks to cover processing fees and taxes. Only one problem, which you can probably see coming down Sixth Avenue: Their check was bogus.
The 11 Worst Internet Scams We’re Still Falling For
Your check is real. At this point, you should be rolling your eyes. These Internet scams all follow a pattern. The work-at-home scam is when you get an email offering you an amazing work-at-home job. All you need to do is buy something up front: So you send the money, and guess what you get back?
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Surprise, surprise—the scan discovers one! And a few people want to cash in.
1. The Nigerian email scam
None of this is new. None of this is surprising. The Internet may be the latest conduit for scams, hoaxes, and frauds—but the greed, fear, and hope it exploits are as old as homo sapiens. He welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. Search Now you can search stock related news and private companies such as Airbnb. No matching results for ''.