(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

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. Warning About Scammers Recruiting Mules

The FBI Regularly Investigates Money MulesMoney mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit.

Money LaunderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. Is Both A U.S. Federal Crime & A State Crime In Many States

Cybercriminals Use Online Dating Sites To Conduct Confidence/Romance 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 Recruit Money Mules

Review: What Is Confidence/Romance FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.? (Also Know As A 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.)

Confidence/romance fraud (Romance Scams) occurs when a 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. deceives a victim into believing they have a trust relationshipTrust Relationship What Is Trust In A Relationship? Trust is the faith you have in someone that they will always remain loyal to you, honest, reliable, or love you. To trust someone means that you can rely on them and are comfortable confiding in them because you feel safe with them. It is the building block for any relationship without which the foundation will always remain shaky.—whether family, friendly, or romantic—and leverages the relationship to persuade the victim to send money, provide personal and financial information, or purchase items of value for the scammer. In some cases, the victim is persuaded to launder money on behalf of the scammer.

Scammers often use online dating sites to pose as U.S. citizens located in a foreign country, U.S. military members deployed overseas, or U.S. business owners seeking assistance with lucrative investments.

The Scam Threat

In 2017, more than 15,000 people filed complaints with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) alleging they were victims of confidence/romance fraud and reporting losses of more than $211 million. In 2018, the number of victims filing these complaints increased to more than 18,000, with more than $362 million in losses—an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous year. Of course, these reports are a small fraction of the real numbers, since more than 90% of victims never report the crime out of shameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness..

In 2018, confidence/romance fraud was the seventh most commonly reported scam to the IC3 based on the number of complaints received, and the second-costliest scam in terms of victim loss. Again the FBI’s can only report what is reported to them.

IC3 receives victim reports from all ages, education, and income brackets. However, the elderly, women, and those who have lost a spouse are often the most targeted and are easily found on social media.

The Scammer’s Methods

After establishing their victims’ trust, scammers try to convince them to send money for airfare to visit, or claim they are in trouble and need money. Victims often send money because they believe they are in a romantic relationship.

For example, a scammer claims to be a U.S. citizen living abroad. After a few months of building a relationship with the victim, the scammer asks the victim to send gifts or electronics to a foreign address. After a few more months, the scammer expresses a desire to return to the U.S. to meet the victim. The scammer claims not to have the money to pay for travel and asks the victim to wire funds. In some cases, the scammer claims the wired funds did not arrive and asks the victim to resend the money.

Some fraudsters provide a fake travel itinerary. When they don’t arrive as scheduled, they claim they were arrested, and ask for more money to post bail. They may also request more money for travel or to recover assets seized during their “arrest.”

Requests for money may continue until the victim is unable—or unwilling—to provide more.

Send In The Mules

In some situations the victim may be unknowingly recruited as a “money muleMoney Mule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes.;” someone who transfers money illegally on behalf of others.

Scammers groom their victims (massively manipulates them) over time and convince them to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds.

GroomingGrooming Grooming is a form of setting up a victim for a scam or other crime by befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the victim, and sometimes the family, to lower the victim's inhibitions with the objective of the scam or criminal activity.  Grooming includes the development of a trust relationship between the criminal and the victim, getting the victims to the point where they can be more completely manipulated.   is defined as preparing a victim to conduct fraudulent activity on their behalf through communications intended to develop a trust relationship (manipulation).

These accounts are used to facilitate criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. activities for a short period of time. If the account is flagged by the financial institution, it may be closed and the scammer will either direct the victim to open a new account or begin grooming a new victim.

Romance Scamming Trends

In other situations, the scammer claims to be a European citizen or an American living abroad. After a few months of developing trust, the scammer will tell the victim about a lucrative business opportunity. The scammer will inform the victim there are investors willing to fund the project, but they need a U.S. bank account to receive funds. The victim is asked to open a bank account or register a limited liability company in the victim’s name and then to receive and send money from that account to other accounts controlled by the scammer.

The downside of this is that it is a crime, plus the “muleMule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes.” may also have to pay taxes on every dollar received and passed through.

Tips To Protect Yourself

Most cybercriminals do not use their own photographs; they use an image stolen from another social media account as their own.

A reverse image search (images.googe.com or http://www.tineye.com) can determine if a stolen profile picture is being used elsewhere on the internet, and on which websites or social media platforms it was used. A search sometimes provides information that links the image with other scams or victims.

To Perform A Reverse Image Search On Profile Photos:

  • Right-click on the image and select “Search for an image.” (if available, if not, save the photo then go to the Google or Tineye website and upload it to search)
  • Or Right-click again and select “Save image as” to save the photo to your device.
  • Using a search engine, choose the small camera icon to upload the saved image into the search engine.

Always Use Your Best Judgment.

While most dating sites routinely monitor account activity and investigate all complaints of falsified accounts, most dating site administrators do not conduct criminal background checks when an account is registered.

Social Media is much worse. Even when reported their moderators frequently do not remove a fake profile.

Keep in mind it is always possible for people to misrepresent themselves. Do not ignore any facts which seem inconsistent.

Common Scammer Techniques

Be aware of the following common techniques used by romance scammers:

  • Immediate requests to talk or chat on an email or messaging service outside of the dating site.
  • Claims that your introduction was “destiny” or “fate,” especially early in communication.
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently living, working, or traveling abroad.
  • Asks for money, goods, or any similar type of financial assistance, especially if you have never met in person.
  • Asks for assistance with personal transactions (opening new bank accounts, depositing or transferring funds, shipping merchandise, etc.).
  • Reports a sudden personal crisis and pressures you to provide financial assistance. Be especially wary if the demands become increasingly aggressive.
  • Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories.
  • Gives vague answers to specific questions.
  • Claims to be recently widowed or claim to be a U.S. service member serving overseas.
  • Disappears suddenly from the site then reappears under a different name using the same profile information.

The FBI & 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. Advises:

  • Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.
  • Never provide credit card numbers or bank account information without verifying the recipient’s identity.
  • Never share your Social Security number or other personally identifiable information that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information.

What To Do If You Are A Victim

If you are a victim of a confidence/romance scam, it is recommended that you take the following actions:

  • If you lost money, report the crime to your local police and obtain a police report number
  • Report the scam to the Money Transfer Agency or your Bank – contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions. You may also need to change your account information. Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
  • Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center www.IC3.gov
  • If a sizeable amount of money or if money was sent inside the U.S. we suggest also visiting your local FBI field office. Local FBI field offices can be found online at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field. There are also FBI offices in most foreign U.S. Embassies.
  • Report the activity to the website where the contact was first initiated.
  • Also, report it on www.Anyscam.com for distribution worldwide to the SCARS Network of agencies and entities.
Money-Mule-Model
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What Is A Money Mule

Did You Receive Money From A Scammer, Or Give A Scammer Access To Your Accounts?

You may have become a Money Mule. This is a crime!

You may have been involved in money laundering or aiding and abetting transnational criminals. Do not try to hide from this – this is serious, and if you are discovered (and you will be) then you might be prosecuted.

You should report these crimes to your local police – however, we strongly recommend that you speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. You have no time to waste. You cannot avoid this, do it today!

SCARS is not a law firm and we are not attorneys. The information we provide is for educational purposes only. See additional disclaimer below.

To find a criminal defense attorney in the United States visit FindLaw here: Criminal Law – FindLaw  For other countries look for your local directory of criminal defense attorneys or solicitors.

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com

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SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS 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. Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
To Learn More, Volunteer, or Donate Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
Contact Us: Contact@AgainstScams.org

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