Just came across an article by Reuters. According to an article, an undergraduate from Nigeria, Lawal Adekunle Nurudee, who is married and who has three children, defrauded a 56 year old woman from Australia out of $47,000 (33,382 pounds) by replying to her personals ad and convincing her that he is a 57 year old white male. He said he was an Englishman calling himself Benson Lawson and he said that he worked as an engineer in Lagos. He told the victim a sob story about his wife and only child being killed in a car accident.
The victim met the con man on the Internet in 2007 and convinced her that he was her Mr. Right and that he was madly and unconditionally in love with her.
The victim sent money to the con man for his “medical expenses” and for his “travel” to Australia to meet her; instead, he spent the money for two lots of land and a car. Of course, he did.
There are a lot of internet scammers coming from Nigeria. Remember “419″ scam, which was named after the clause in Nigeria’s penal code? Most of them are never caught. But thankfully, this one was.
Nurudeen was caught and ordered to pay the victim around $10,000 immediately and make payments of $250 a month to the victim until the full amount was paid off satisfactory. The victim will also receive the proceeds from selling a car and the land.
Personally, it still surprises me that both men and women fall victim to these tricksters. On one hand, you think how could anyone buy into it? But on the other hand, when your heart is longing for love and companionship, you become vulnerable. And these con men, or women for that matter, prey on that.
As an owner and an administrator of a free dating site, I constantly come across these types of profiles. They email my site’s members, they tell them compelling stories, they say they want a relationship with you, etc.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if the site is free or has a paid membership. The scammers always find a way. Take the case above and play with some numbers. For example, a dating sit fee was $20/month. Even if you calculate that the con man was a member of that site for 12 months, he would have paid $240 a year. If he never got caught, which usually is the case, he would have made a profit of $46,750. Not a bad investment.
How do you know you are being contacted by one of the scammers on a dating site? Actually, it is pretty easy. Or maybe it is easy for me, because I see it every day.
The scammers like using expressions such as “oh my dear”, “hello dearest”, “my lovely”, etc. You get the idea. They may tell you right of the bat they love you. They will tell you such a sad story about their family, the hardships they are going through, their health is in bad shape and they are in need of medical attention, whatever else that could touch a heart in need of love. Usually they say they are either from USA or England, but working out of country. They may say that the business transaction is taking a little longer because the bank would not release the funds, etc. And here you are, the most loving kindest person, running to the rescue. Stop! The love should never cost a thing.
When dealing with dating or social networking sites, pay attention to the profile of the person contacting you. Too chummy? Well, don’t respond. No picture, but an interesting profile? Request the picture to be sent through the site’s email. Are you being asked for your phone number and/or email? Do not give it out. In fact, do not give out any personal information at all. Many sites, almost all of them, offer various tools for communicating with other members. Use those tools until you are comfortable with the person you are dealing with. If someone gives you their email and/or a phone number, do not rush into contacting them. Continue communicating through the site. If you have reasons to believe you are communicating with a scammer, report the profile to the site’s administrator.
I can’t say this words enough times: Use your common sense. Happy dating and online surfing!