Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

RSN™ Guide: ScammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. Fake Profiles

A site visitor recently asked about the methods scammers use for fake profiles.

A Typical Fake Profiles Will Have:

  • Are all the photos stolen?
  • How do they choose which photos to steal?
  • Are the names all made up?
  • Do they use different names?

FAKE PHOTOS

Let’s talk about the photos used on fake profiles first.

They are almost always stolen photos for the African scammers – the exception is when they use their real photos or that of a girlfriend – in those cases, they are using real identities but it is still a scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost..

Each scammer or even gangGang A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested. has a portfolio of photos they use over and over. They have the analysis that shows which ones work – this is, after all, a business and it is driven by analysis and stats.

They steal a large number of photos of the same person(s) so they can create variety in their fake profiles. An individual scammer may create several hundred (or even thousands) fake profiles a year – but there is a limit – it comes down to how can they manage them all.

Most victims never think about the logistical problems associated with managing hundreds or thousands of separate fake personas. It is more significant than you think.

When they create each fake profile they have to use a separate email address, so they create tons of Yahoo or Gmail email addresses, but they also turn on forwarding on each account so one central email address gets notified by each of the individual emails of any activity. So that central email address becomes their dashboard or control panel of what is happening in their scammer space.

Using the same stolen people helps them reduce the number of moving parts to a manageable level. It also means it is easier for them to send photos by email without messing up and sending the wrong person (which used to happen a lot).

FAKE NAMES

Names are another point of significant confusion for the scammer.

Many times they will use the same name over and over so that they can remember who they are supported to be and not screw up when talking to a victim. But they will also use sub-names or nicknames (with some made up story about why they do this).

This allows them to switch the victim over from the displayed name to a common name quickly that they can remember during the conversations with the victim.

It is actually very hard to keep it all straight if they do not do this, and scammers not very long ago had big problems with keeping their identities straight – but with organization comes improved techniques and better training. So a significant red flag is when you see a profile name and then they refine it to something else.

Scammer Insight:

Today, organized scammers use large spreadsheets or even Microsoft Office 365 Notes to keep all of their identities straight. This allows them to make fewer mistkes that give up the game!

The result is that a single individual scammer “tends” to use the same stolen person and the same or similar names over and over and over. But they also arrive at a point where they are no longer viable. Why? Becuase we blow their identities up through overexposure! Every time you help by reporting a scammer on the SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Anti-Scam Data Reporting Network via www.Anyscam.com or other entry points you reduce the effectiveness of an identity (IN CONTRAST TO REPORTING IT IN A GROUP ON FACEBOOK WHICH IS A NEAR TOTAL WASTE OF TIME).

When the scammer has to create a whole new persona this is time-consuming and makes them prone to errors that disrupt their ability to make money. Some people argue that scam baitingScam Baiting A foolish activity where a victim or nonvictim engages in deception and fraud to lead on a scammer into revealing information or for the sport of it. Deliberate deception online, regardless of the reason, is both unethical and in many places may also be illegal. While not prosecuted, Scambaiting has no legitimate benefit and should never be performed by victims since it is an act of revenge and only amplifies trauma. It is a reprehensible practice that is popularized by amateur anti-scam groups driven by their hate for fraudsters. Learn more: SCARS Position Statement Against Scambaiting is effective, but it is not, it just teaches the scammer new techniques to avoid being caught the next time. The most important approach is to never let the scammer know that you know, and report them to blow their cover identity as broadly as possible – the SCARS Network is proving very effective in that.

Remember that the scammer is just a simple individual and they use habits and simple strategies to keep it all together. They have to run hundreds of identities to have a chance to close the deal on a victim. This is very complex and they have to be organized enough to do it. It isn’t easy, so the more we can disrupt that organization (not through baiting) but by destroying viable identities, the more we can cut into their cash-flow.

Ultimately, nothing is effective except interrupting the money-flow. We know that few scammers will ever be arrested. However, these gangsGangs A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested. have a cost for each scammer that works for them, and unproductive scammers do not succeed.

Does it sound like we admire them? No, but we recognize that they are an organized business that treats individual scammers like salesmen that have to make a quota. Wasting their time actually improves their skill. Blowing up their identities is effective because this is a process that takes time to create new ones.

OUTSOURCING IDENTITIES

In the last couple of years, we have seen that they are now outsourcing identity creation. There is at least one group in Vietnam working to create identities, and these are far better than what the scammers could do by themselves.

If you are a victim, you need to understand that you are facing a well-organized enemy. The stupid scammer grammarScammer Grammar Scammer Grammar (a term invented by the SCARS Team back in 2012) - is a writing style that is largely very bad English, bad grammar, mixed with West African slang and speech patterns. It is hard to define but easy to recognize when you see it. It is often referred to as Pidgin English, though this is not technically true. This most often shows when individual scammers (even if educated) try to improvise and create new written communications. Do a search on our website for SCAMMER GRAMMAR to find countless examples.™ profile text is now (mostly) a thing of the past – though you still see some by individual and small-gang scammers.  You see it more often in the impromptu writings of scammers in their chats. Scammers even have professional scriptwriters now, and in some cases have outsourced the email portion of their work to better language writers (some located in Asia, such as Vietnam).

If you do not yet understand that this is big-business you are deluding yourself.

Remember, you are your own worst enemy in this. You have to learn survival skills to live online now. And take off the rose-colored glasses; you are swimming with sharks all around – even in the anti-scam world too. Incompetent groups and even scammer run groups are everywhere.

Start Learning Who To Trust By Trusting No One!

No one is going to save you or get your money back, but we can educate you and talk you down off of the cliff you are standing on.

REMEMBER: ANYONE that claims they are going to Africa to arrest scammers is lying (other than government). The same for money recovery.

SUMMARY

We hope this gives you some insight into the real world of scamming, not what most groups of wannabe experts tell you so often.

If you have other questions, please tell us and we will help to expand everyone’s knowledge in every way we can.

Please post your questions and comments below.

Tom Borman,
RSN TEAM
a division of the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams [SCARS]

Visit our Main SCARS™ News & Information Facebook page for much more information about scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.Victims.Support.And.Recovery

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