Online criminal groups have gone to great lengths to recruit mules in recent years. Social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have all been used to recruit individuals willing to let their bank account be used to receive a transfer from an illegal account, then forward it along. In turn, the FBI has said that it was going to be stepping up efforts to crack down on money mules.
Alternatively the ‘mule’ may be asked to receive goods, purchased online through fraudulently obtained funds, and requested to forward these on to an overseas address. A promised payment may sometimes be arranged, however in most romance scam related cases, promises of a new life together often substitute any monetary gain for the victim.
Have you met someone online that has asked you to receive funds or goods on their behalf? Quite simply, this is money laundering and any individual assisting these criminals can be prosecuted and have their whole bank account frozen. A conviction for an offence of money laundering may carry a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.
Nigerian and Eastern European organized crime networks specialize in sending counterfeit checks and money order to unsuspecting scam victims for the purpose of money laundering.
These same networks obtain the account information of their scam victims and wire money stolen from another account holder into the scam victim's account.
In both instances, the scam victim is told to send a large portion of the money by Western Union or MoneyGram to false names, usually in foreign countries. The scam victim has now engaged in money laundering, will owe the entire amount of money he sent off, and is at high risk of being indicted for theft, forgery, and money laundering.
He is a young West African male, probably between the ages of 16 and 25. He lives in Nigeria or Ghana or possibly Malaysia and there's a good chance wherever he is, he is Nigerian. He scams for a living. He works in a 'gang' of 3 to 10 other males and/or sometimes a female or two as well. The gang has a boss, who might provide the location, computers and Western Union and law enforcement bribes. Every member of the gang has a job they do and they work round the clock roaming dating and social media sites, collecting pictures, making email accounts, reading and stealing profiles, sending out flirts and contacts, sorting and answering emails, developing new avenues to collect money and story lines, plus a whole lot more (including phishing and hacking). The scammers with better English skills are usually the ones who do the majority of writing profiles and lengthy emails. They also do the phone calls, especially if they can speak English with any other accent besides African. Chances are good that you were never in contact with just one man in the beginning.
When we are communicating with a scammer we don't hold back about our life issues and downfalls. Scammers quickly pick up on our emotional void and loneliness so that is a cue for the scammer to groom the victim with online affection and promises the scammer knows will never come true. Scammers do not feel empathy, they don't fall in love nor do they become committed to the romance scam victims. Scammers only build illusions woven out of lies and elaborate illusions.
Scammer use psychology to get the victim under their manipulation and control with their excellent profiling skills, they know how, and when to place those skills into play to make the victim feel pity, dutiful, and guilt.
The reason victims are romantic with the scammer is the scammer chooses the correct picture and profile to hide behind. Scammers know they do not fit the image a man or woman is seeking in a relationship; scammers use stolen photos to lure victims into a romance scam. The stolen photos are the most powerful visual tools scammers use to visually entice romance scam victims. With time, the loss of the dream, and the illusion, we will get better.
Unfortunately for the victim, when we reach this stage the illusion is embedded so deep into our mind, heart and soul, our emotions blinding our intellectual and logical understanding, and we begin to believe this is the exception to the rule; we ignore all the red flags. Not one scammer has turned out to be real, nor honestly in love with their victims. No matter how many hours they spend communicating with the victim; it was all a carefully orchestrated illusion of love, an online romances scam.
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