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Scammers often misrepresent their appearance—using photos that are edited or of others. A lot of individuals who have been victimized truly believe that they are in an actual caring and loving relationship, albeit in a very short period of time. JD Shamwell: The FBI realizes that this is a very delicate situation for a lot of individuals.These are reported complaints, so the actual number confidence scams is expected to be much higher.The number of losses between June and December 2015 is more than million higher when compared to the same time the year before.
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These numbers are not categorized in a way that is possible to determine how many of the complaints or dollar losses stem from West Africa.
The majority of victims of these scams are between the ages of 40 and 60, male and female.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI says an increasing number of Americans are becoming victims of romance scams originating from West Africa. Halpern: Scammers use stories of fake tragedies, medical problems, and other hardships to solicit money. Shamwell: “I have a business that’s profitable, but I’m lacking certain equipment to make it more profitable.
Perpetrators use legitimate dating websites to defraud people looking for love out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, jewelry, electronics, and even plane tickets. I can assure you that if I can get this equipment, then I can make more money and we can be together.” Halpern: Believing they are in a relationship, some victims break the bank to help their Internet interest. Shamwell: Some of these victims are actually taking out second mortgages on their homes, they're using their retirement funds, they're doing reverse mortgages, things of that nature.
In 2015, 9,890 complaints were received from victims in that age range, while we received just 2,373 complaints from victims 39 and under.