Marriage Scams – We Have Said It 10,000 Times – Do Not Travel To West Africa!
Yet Victims Become Manipulated To Abandon Their Homes And Families And Go To West Africa To Marry Someone They Have Never Met
This is how Marriage Scams happen! Did this happen to you?
It Is Estimated That As Many as 1,500 victims a Month Travel to Nigeria Alone!
They go there with visions of “Happily Even After” and somehow their Nigerian Husband is going to treat them like they have never been treated before. This is the starting point for these marriage scams.
Ironically, they are right! They will be defrauded, stripped of their rights, help hostage, and in the case of as many as 100 a month killed. Not exactly a Happy Ending.
How Does These Marriage Scams Work?
We all know the story. You are contacted by a stranger online, through a dating website or through social media. These scammers often tend to use real photos and real names, so it is not an obvious 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. or fake.
The victim believes they are firmly in love with the younger handsome stranger from Africa. The relationship will progress over several months of 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. and manipulation, usually resulting in the total alienation of family and friends – they simply could never understand.
These marriage scammers are typically looking for women who have large savings or who own a house. If the victim owns their house, they usually sell it before traveling to Africa – why would they need it, they are going to be happy there, right?
She arrives and meets her Prince Charming, and everything is wonderful.
They meet the family, where they are going to live is not really adequate, but from the money that she has, they will buy a new house and he will set up a new business. Everything will be great! After all, she has sold her house or cashed out her retirement account.
Then The Marriage Is Arranged
Usually, everything is great until the day of the marriage. This is where the truth about marriage scams begins to appear.
Depending on the intention of the 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., it will typically go one of two ways.
- The bride gets “cold feet” and decides to wait or withdraw
- Or decides to go forward
Everything depends on the victim’s money – if she still has things to do back at home to free it up, then the ceremony happen completely normally, like any happy couple, so she can return home and finish the transactions. In these cases, the victim travels back to Europe or North America and finishes off the final sale and banking, then returns to Africa.
If the victim has all of her money in her bank accounts ready to access, then the marriage will proceed at speed.
If the victim has had hesitation and perhaps wants to wait, then drugs are used to induce her to go through with the marriage. This is what we saw in the case of Diane Webb. When they go to the courthouse for the license and the marriage, the officials are paid off and do not care. Everything happens as scripted.
The Next Step In These Marriage Scams
This is where it gets nasty. The victim – now wife finds out that things were not quite as planned.
The first step is for the new husband to seize her passport, money, travel tickets – virtually everything she has. Often even her clothing. She will be kept a prisoner by the criminal and his family – yes, they willingly play a role in keeping the woman captive. The conditions will, in part, depend on how valuable the woman is after she arrives. It also depends on how often the criminal has and is going to be doing this.
Some victims are kept in the home with the 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.’s family who will abuse her psychologically and many times physically. She will be denied access to family – which she systematically pushed away while she was being manipulated before traveling. She will not have access to her money or any necessities. In some cases, like with Diane Webb, she will be held chained in a shed or warehouse.
Victims are held in these conditions until every penny can be extracted from her by the criminals.
The Last/Final Step
With these marriage scams, the victims can be held and abused for months until the criminal has all of her money. But then it depends on the kind of person he is. Some will let the victim go – with or without a passport and ticket because they know she can go to her country’s embassy for help. But some will never be seen again.
It is estimated that as many as 100 Americans disappear each month in Nigeria alone. In rural countries, it is easy to dispose of bodies. How many of them were in this situation is impossible to know. How many are from other countries is also not known.
But the fact remains the people go into West Africa and are never seen again!
Gender & Race
Notice that throughout this article about West African Marriage Scams we have assumed that the victim is a woman and the criminal is a man.
In our experience, most often the woman is White and the criminal is black, but not always. We believe that part of the reason for this is prestige – the scammer gains prestige in their community with such a marriage, also strangely it does not attract attention from the local authorities. It may be a calculation also, that white women will be less aware of African culture and less prepared for the cultural differences, making it easier to fall for the grooming, manipulation, and control.
In most of West Africa the law support men having complete financial control, and in Muslin regions absolute control over women. A man traveling to meet a wife in West Africa would not have the same restrictions. Thus even the law supports the rights of the criminal husband after marriage.
We have heard countless stories from families and friends about people they knew and loved who gave up everything and traveled to West Africa, were trapped into these marriage scams, many never to be heard from again. Those who were able to return faced great difficulties just getting out of the country. In some cases they had criminal charges filed against them by their criminal husband, in other cases, they were just abandoned in the street to make their own way.
But we have also seen cases where the women were so physically abused that they died from the experience.
After they make it home – those that survive this experience – they will find a completely different set of challenges, especially from law enforcement. This is not a traditional financial fraud or scam, it is a marriage and with it comes all of the entanglements that come with that. While clearly there is abuse, their local policeLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. can do nothing other than take the report, since it all took place in another country and the perpetrator is not there in their jurisdiction. In fact, the police often will not even afford these victims the same protections as battered wives. But that police report is important since it enables local benefits that the victim may need.
What is worse is that it may very well be a legally binding marriage. This means the criminal might be entitled to residency in the victim’s country, and in divorce to alimony!
What To Do?
If a victim finds themself in this situation, SCARS is here to help. We have special support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers. for these victims with others that have been through similar experiences.
However, the most important things to do are:
- Find a traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselor or therapist – you will be traumatized!
- Find a divorce attorney to explore to the victim their rights and how to end the marriage quickly. They can also advise on other actions they can take
- Report the crime – local police, 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. (even though they will do nothing), and most importantly to the Immigration service as marriage fraud
Trauma counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy will help to overcome the experience and the trauma that was accumulated. This is important and should never be ignored – trauma does not simply go away!
Reporting to the local police is important since it can open doors for local support for abused women. Every victim should also take out a restriction order against the criminal just in case. The FBI will be useless, but at least it is on file.
Reporting the criminal to the Immigration Service is important because the victim will want to prevent him from getting a visa as their husband and immigrating to their country as is his potential right after the marriage. In the U.S. report these here: https://www.uscis.gov/report-fraud/uscis-tip-form This should help prevent obtaining a visa and entry into the country.
This is one of the worst types of relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? and the victim need help to overcome and recover from them. If they have been held hostage, friends and family can be supportive, but a trauma counselor or therapist will be essential. Click here to find resources to help.
Just know that it is not their fault. Like all relationship victims, they were expertly lured in, groomed, manipulated, and controlled until the point where the criminal got what they want.
But know that this is NOT a romance scam, it is a different kind of crime, that requires different kinds of support and a different recovery process.
SCARS is here to help these victims. To join our Marriage Scam support groupSupport Group In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers. visit http://support.AgainstScams.org to sign up.
To Learn More Also Look At Our Article Catalogs
Essential Tools For Every Scam SurvivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com From SCARS Publishing
Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32 plus years of experience.
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SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide
LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN
This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counseling or therapy, qualified support groups, or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.
The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!
SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!
A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims
HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS
This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.
The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.
Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scams work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.
SCARS RED BOOK
Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer
ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!
Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you
Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!
As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.
The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.
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By the 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
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