RSN™ Insights: A Brief History Of The Beginning Of Online Scamming

In The Very Beginning 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. Were Face To Face

Then they migrated to classified ads or by the mail. The Nigerian Prince scams actually started as letters sent through the post.

But When Did Online Scams Start?

We all know the world of online scamming now. Nigeria holds control over this world and rakes in billions of dollars.

But When Did It Really Begin?

Scamming as we know it began by regular mail sent to the United Kingdom. Nigerian Prince letters were posted by Nigerians living in England and in Nigeria.

However, Online Dating Opened The Door

Online dating really began on the old Compuserve, as well as dedicated Bulleting Board Systems back in the 1980’s. As early as 1982 there was an online dating service based out of San Jose California on a dedicated dial-up computer that had 320 profiles – that was created by the RSN founder and operated from his office at Atari.

Compuserve

Compuserve

By 1989 Compuserve had message boards devoted to dating, and of course, there were the inevitable liars. These were not true romance scammers, as much as they were local con-artists.

In 1991 the first appearance of the term “Romance 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.” emerged, but these were not the kinds of scams we know today, these were marriage and visa scams. In those days people were talking about international dating services – Eastern Europeans, Latin Americans, and Asians looking to marry Western Europeans and Americans. However, these were numbered at only a few hundred.

An illustration of AOL Chat Rooms - unfortunately no screen shots have survived

An illustration of AOL Chat Rooms – unfortunately, no screenshots have survived

 

In 1991 there was a Romance Scams message board on AOL.

The romance scams that we know now first emerged in 1992 with the significant expansion of Compuserve into Europe. In those days it was all dial-up connections, so African scammers in England began developing the model. Nigerians would rotate through the UK, and in a few cases actually dialed in from Nigeria to UK numbers to connect with Compuserve. These were mostly telecom workers who did not have to worry about the phone bills. You could say that today’s romance scams actually began in the Nigeria phone company.

By 1993, Compuserve had more than 1.5 million subscribers dialing in around the world and 90,000 of those subscribers were in Europe.

As best we can estimate by 1994 there were about 10-12 real romance scammers working. These were polished Nigerians looking for a quick payday.

In 1995 the first web-based dating service Date.com was launched as a unit of TigerDirect.com That service shut down by 1997 over legal and liability concerns. But it did show dozens of African subscribers by the time it was ended.

By 1997 AOL and other similar services were dominating the Internet with their own dating services, message boards, and chat rooms, and romance scams was an established – if not well known – problem online.

Connecting-to-AOL

Connecting to AOL

From there it simply grew organically, and with the advent of the Communications Decency Act of 1997 in the U.S. the die was cast. The Bush Administration was so totally focused on the war on terror that they never noticed the growth, and by the time Obama entered he had no interest in enforcing anything over poor Africa – his home continent!

Thus from something that could have been shut down with a single power switch, it has grown to over 400 million fake profiles on Facebook alone as of 2018, and more than 1 Billion fake identities across the Internet.

Romance Scams Now – Here From The Beginning – 27 Years And Counting

 

Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams


RSN Team

a division of 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.
Miami Florida U.S.A.

 

 


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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. (www.IC3.gov)
  3. The Scars Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.



Visit our NEW Main SCARS™ News & Information Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.News.And.Information

 

To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org

Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com

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