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. 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.

How to Avoid a Romance Scam When Using Online Dating Sites

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.

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: Love is the strongest drug. If you think you have been or are being scammed, you can send your complaint to the FBI. An earlier version of the story said Nigerian scamming networks did much of their work out of internet cafes due to the high cost of online connections. Language has been updated to note that several federal agencies were involved in the Western Union settlement.

News Politics Entertainment Communities. Opinion HuffPost Personal Videos. The Power Of Pussyhats: Got all of that after chatting for a week. This guy it's been talking to me send me a video from the gym as yours send me a video of a night ride with a very loud music, tattoos , American flag an eagle , he is bold , very nice looking and said he is from Virginia and it is stationed in Bermudas.

The second thing he made me confused: He would like to send me this amount from the third person his friend to kept it safe for him untill he back home from Syria. He said he served in Us Navy. I just ask him this amount legal or illegal. But im still confuse. I need to you guys recommended or advise. You can't use an iTunes card to go online. The iTunes card is used only to buy music, apps or books. The story about finding gold bars is not true.

How A Billion-Dollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts | HuffPost Life

The online warning says soldiers do not find large sums of money and do not need your help to get that money out of the country. Scammers tell people they found money, because they want people to pay to receive the "shipment" of money or gold. But there is really no shipment of money or gold. If you pay the taxes, fees or import duties to receive the "shipment," you will lose money. They use iTunes to subscribe to services like SmartLine Second Phone Number to create more local numbers to trick other people and pretending they are from that state.

Let me tell you I did some real sleuthing and got to the bottom of it. He is now blocked. He is currently in Madrid and wants A friend of mine got tricked by someone claiming to be Sullivan. He claimed to be a US soldier based in Syria who won the battle against ISIS and the president of Syria gave his team a lump sum of money and a bar of gold.

He claimed he sent the package to her to keep for him. The tracking number from Planet Logistics worked well until it hot to a state close to where my friend lives. She was asked to send money to help clear the package and she did. Anyway it will only be a matter of time before the FBI catches up with those evil scammers.

God is alive he is not sleeping. Hi Daisy, I am sorry about your friend but I need to say that my friend was tricked by this same guy. This Nigerian is very slick. He actually has my friend believing he loves her and sadly she now has feelings for him. His initial profile on Instigram is Anthony Sullivan, a decorated soldier Stolen Valor and he approached her with that profile until finally getting her on a video chat in which he showed him self to be Nigerian.

He says he goes by the name 'Pride' and that he told her that he has scammed people in the past and is reformed and gave her some sob story about him losing his mom. He claims he is coming here to Phoenix to be with her in March and is totally playing with her heart strings. It is just sickening. No matter how much I try to explain things to her she is just caught up in his web.

This man is sick and calls her many times daily. I wish there was a way someone could catch up to him and make him stop his scamming of women. He has multiple phone numbers but the one I was able to get from her was The Instagram profile he uses is anthonysull48 and he talks to women using an app called 'Whatsapp'. I wish the real soldier shown in his Instagram profile could be found. I tried to get on her phone with him and he just hangs up because he knows im not going to fall for his nonsense. I feel so sorry for my friend and all women this Nigerian man is manipulating and wish there was something that can be done to stop him.

Scamming people out of money is a horrible thing but a woman's heart is not something to play with. I hope someone can stop him. He wants my address and phone number so he can send me a box with money along with a ring as a proof of his love for me. I immediately blocked him on Google Hangouts. Just in case he goes by the name of Dave Wellington so please be careful with this guy.

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The story was different he was mechanical engineer got a contract for 1. Because he was middle of ocean need a card to contact his son who was studying in Europe. There were several red flags. Tried to google him try to look him up on been verified no such person. He even has a Facebook page with pictures of some other person with financial stability.

He finally called me had a heavy African accent but the man in the picture was a Caucasian man. I talked with a FBI person and said its not a Federal crime to impersonate a person but is when they extort money from a person On a Jeevan Saathi portal, I found a man a doctor. Must not be American though. He told me that he belongs to USA and is posted in Iraq. He told me he sent some medical equipment and books and asked me to pay transit charges of rupees 2.

I told him I am poor and not able to do it. I met that guy too on IG. Couple of message and we switched to whatsapp. He told me he was norwegian settled in Scotland , mechanical engineer. When he sent the first message on whataspp I saw he used an US phone No. I blocked him on IG and whtasapp. After one week he texted me on whatsapp with Ukrainien phone NO. He claimed he has a contract there. On iIG he uses ID: This sounds exactly like my Dr. Ben Blake, US Army currently in Syria, bad break up with ex-wife, mother and father died when he was very young.

Only living relative in the US took him in and raised him but he died too. Am the only on he has in this world, very smooth. I would get an email and songs everyday. He's in love with me after 4 weeks. Because the action in Syria is so bad, he wants to send me some of his valuable papers, medals, awards and whatnot. Others Names to look out for ladies: I think I came across a scammer on Instagram. Goes by the name Walker Evans. Pretends to be Christian.

Sends quotes and uplifting messages everyday. Says he works for the UN in Syria as an electrical engineer. Wife died of cancer. English is his second language and Spanish his first. Has two children a girl and boy. Sent me a few pics of him and them. Said he doesn't want me to share with anyone because he is a private person. Says he was orphaned at the age of 11 and then changed it to Was raised by the Catholic church.

Yeah don't be fooled. I was waiting for him to ask for money. It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy. This is a moderated blog; we review all comments before they are posted. We expect participants to treat each other and the bloggers with respect.

We will not post comments that do not comply with our commenting policy. We may edit comments to remove links to commercial websites or personal information before posting them. Comments submitted to this blog become part of the public domain. Also, do not use this blog to report fraud; instead, file a complaint. The FTC is closed due to the lapse in funding. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information consumer.

Share this page Facebook Twitter Linked-In. July 15, by Aditi Jhaveri. They ask you to: Comments bunny May 7, reply. Thanks17 May 10, reply. Mia June 16, reply. Donna October 18, reply. I have almost same story andI have pics also and would love to see if they are same man. Seeking truth November 20, reply. I have a very similar story. Can you send me pictures? California girl December 17, reply. Thanks17 May 7, reply. Joda45 October 20, reply. Tamb51 March 22, reply. Gigi18 December 20, reply. MarkD April 21, reply. Hey i think i might be in a scam donu have the istagran page of that guy?

XTopher26 July 27, reply. Carusogirl August 27, reply. Mary October 10, reply. Bella October 15, reply. Scoobydoo November 6, reply. Monica November 12, reply. November 16, reply. H says he is working on the Katia for China Petroluem company pro. Baldwin December 2, reply. Beenscammed November 6, reply.

Just want the truth August 4, reply. Shaylah8 September 7, reply. Brenda November 12, reply. Helena November 21, reply. Lyre December 11, reply. I have a similar story, only this guy is in Kuwait. Can we exchange pictures? Queen September 9, reply. Simone December 7, reply.

I have been conned by cannon j Powells Works on oil rid has daughter brass. Helen June 10, reply. JMYS October 8, reply. Kasey June 22, reply. Kasey August 21, reply.