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Romance-Scam - The evil game of romance cheats
Updated on Thursday, February 16, 2017, 7:18 PM
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Unscrupulous love-takers take their victims on social online platforms. There is little to be done against the digital marriages. Affected people pay a lot of money and end up in financial and spiritual ruin. A look behind the facades of the perpetrators and victims.
Keyboard with heart button and images of attractive people (symbol image). Open picture in Lightbox.
Bildunterde: The romantic artists adorn their online profiles with dream photos. Colourbox / Collage SRF
Cheaters go with time. They use the new media and adapt to new social phenomena, such as the search for partners on the Internet. So-called romance scramblers (romantic or love fans) open up false profiles with stolen pictures on social platforms and entwine their victims for weeks with love whispering. After the victims have fallen in love with the wrong faces and beautiful words, after they have been made to a certain extent submissive, the scammers demand money.
The fraudsters have especially easy play on grid platforms like Facebook, Tinder or Badoo. Payroll sites like Parship or b2 have introduced control filters, but also there a Romance-Scammer can slip through the meshes.
1 million francs - and all for love
Many victim reports show that this fraud is a success. Also in Switzerland. However, the Romance Scamming still receives relatively little attention, statistics on fraud attempts or victims do not exist. A big problem: the presumably enormous dark figure, as many victims of shame do not report.
In a study conducted in 2012, the English University of Leicester concludes from a representative survey that over a period of five years, almost 230,000 Britons fell victim to such romanticists. Ascending trend. According to SOCA (Serious Crime Agency), they paid between 50 and 800'000 pounds (around 1 million francs) to the fraudsters. SRF, two cases were known from Switzerland, which brought the victims close to the financial ruin: one affected paid 80'000 francs, the second victim the amount was already in the six-digit range. Women are generally more affected than men.
Photos of beautiful people and character description. Open picture in Lightbox.
Imagine: Scammers deliberately act as dreammother. Colourbox / collage SRF
Black becomes white: The big picture joke on the Internet
Behind this fraud is once again the infamous Nigeria Connection. The fraudsters work in organized gangs, pretending to be Americans or English, but actually sit in Nigeria or Ghana. In the meantime, however, there are a lot of free-riders who run this "business model" all over the world.
The website romancescam.com would make life difficult for the digital marriages. Among other things, the operators collect scammer profiles and publish them. Sometimes the website seems to succeed in revealing the true faces behind the profiles with false photos. This is possible because some scammers are careless. They use the same e-mail address, which correspond to their victims, as a contact on their actual Facebook or similar profiles, the operators of the website write.
Although the correctness of the photo comparisons can not be verified, the photo gallery on romancescam.com shows very beautifully who can stuck behind stolen photos and bewitching love whisper: young men and young women - mostly dark skinned - do not make any difference between the sexes: Men are considered women, women pretend to be men, etc.
Portrait of a beautiful woman. Open picture gallery in lightbox.
Imagine you are flirting with this woman for weeks, and she gives you her heart. Collage: Great Prices, Great Rooms
Getting these romance scammers is extremely difficult. The IP address can not be determined outside the EU, the Internet profile is fake, the mobile phones are often equipped with unregistered prepaid cards (for example with English prefix). To collect the money of the victims - usually with a money transfer service such as Westernunion - use fake badges or send firing men. Another problem: the Swiss authorities need legal aid from the relevant country to prosecute the perpetrators, but usually they are not interested in cooperating there.
Master of manipulation
The scam of the fraudsters
The frauds of the frauds have a clear pattern. According to Swiss criminal law, three levels are known:
Love Shame in 3 Steps:
Level 1: Manipulation of feelings
If a person who is looking for a partner asks the question of a scammers at all times as serious, the manipulation of the fake profiles has already worked. Those affected feel flattered. "At last I find a great partner too, finally I find happiness, which I had to forgo so long!". Those concerned are longing for a concrete meeting to which the fraudsters also "work". Female scammers often demand money for a flight to Switzerland, which they naturally never compete. Male cheaters postpone a targeted meeting. For example, first important business needs to be done, illnesses and accidents or problems with the justice appear. Again and again, the so-called lawyer of the "beloved" - often it is about the same person - and underpins the precarious situation. Victims are being pressured to send money so that the meeting can take place. This phase can take weeks or even months. The longer the dependency lasts, the more difficult it becomes to remain suspicious.
Level 2: Conviction with false facts
Victims who are not or are no longer willing to pay will continue to be pressured by alleged police and judicial authorities. For example, a false Interpol investigator writes that the fraudsters were unmasked and wanted to repay the money to the victim. In order for the money to be paid, an advance payment should be made at Customs. And the trap snaps back. In their disappointment, the victims want to limit the financial damage.
Step 3: Pressing with intimate images
However, the Romance-Scammer does not stop with so-called "sex-tortion". In the course of the intimate and sparkling online flirt, they increasingly make their victims increasingly sending intimate images. If the persons concerned are not willing to pay, they are extorted: "If you do not pay, we will publish the material."
Source: Swiss Crime Prevention / Study University of Leicester
Irrational giddiness often does not make sense
White man presenting fish caught at a lake. Open picture in Lightbox.
Bildlegende: That's supposed to be Thomas. The photo was stolen from a dating platform, by a Marc from California. zvg
An SRF editor took up contact with such a "lover" about a year ago and gave herself up as a friend of a Scammer victim. This is intended to convince the entrenched victim of a fraud and to show the obscene approach. The alleged Thomas Schneider from England was reachable via a cell phone number with preselection of the Arab Emirates. He told the editors freely that he was currently in prison in Abu Dhabi. Very suspicious: Nevertheless, he could telephone with his own mobile phone. And he lamented how badly he was being treated. He also told the reporter that he needed 19,000 euros. All this with an accent that does not sound English at all.
The victim could not convince him of all this. Despite growing doubts, she continued to cling to the belief in this "love". And this is typical. In the study by the University of Leicester, the victims said they had seen the man or the woman on the (wrong) profile picture during communication. And they did not want to believe that the great love was only invented and had to see the "lover" or the "beloved" just as quickly as possible.
Marianne R., too, reported on the "Kassensturz"
"Finally something positive comes up."
"He was so stubborn."
"I had doubts."
"I suffered from depression."
Today, she has made up for her financial damage at the time and happily overcame her mental pain.
Who is especially vulnerable to such fraud?
Read more in the interview with the criminologist Chantal Billaud of the Swiss Crime Prevention
Nice text but one remark: Each entry in the scammers4real topics can simply be proven by following the link, getting the email address/scam phone number - and doing it yourselfRomance-Scam Intelligence does not protect against love cheaters
Updated on Thursday, February 16, 2017, 7:18 PM
Whether someone becomes a victim of love cheats has nothing to do with intelligence. A criminologist of the Swiss criminal prosecution explains who is prone to such fraud attempts. And it makes gloomy predictions: The fraudsters always invent new tricks and meshes.
Image: The victims suffer not only financial damage. Many fall into a deep depression. colourbox
"How can you be so stupid?" Many are wondering about such behavior. There is little to do with lack of intelligence. "The victims are mostly lacking media literacy," says Chantal Billaud, a criminologist with the Swiss criminal prosecution. It conducts regular consultations and exchanges with the police forces about such cases.
SRF: Mrs. Billaud, they say, most of the victims are not media-competent. What does it mean exactly?
Chantal Billaud: Often, people are victims of being blue-eyed on the web. They know little about the basic functioning of the Internet and do not know how easy and all kinds of information can be faked.
"In Romance-Scam unfortunately often: starving heart eats brain. »
Is not the loneliness also due to the fact that men and women put all their hopes and feelings on such flirts?
Also. Typical victims are characterized by a great need for emotional attention. While one speaks of "greed of the brain" in the victims of the antecedents, one must unfortunately say: "starving heart eats brain."
In the interview:
Chantal Billaud, Criminologist and Deputy Director of Swiss Crime Prevention.
The scammers seem to be real masters of manipulation. How do they keep making sacrifices?
These are professional love charmers, who know how to flirt, to embrace and to promise the heaven on earth. They manipulate the emotional world of those affected until they become blind to love.
Where do the scammers learn that? Are they natural talents?
Fraud on the net are differently professional. There are actually indications that such gangs are organized as something like internal training.
"The more emotions and money has been invested, the more stubbornly you want to believe that it is not fraud. »
Why are victims often so insane and do not want to know about a fraud for months?
There are victims who are simply convinced that they have finally found great love; The desire for a partnership is stronger than all the facts. In addition, the more emotions and money invested, the more stubbornly the person wants to believe that it is not fraud. The emotional and financial loss would be hard to cope with. However, most stakeholders are very quickly aware when they realize how the fraud runs out.
They also talk about financial loss as well as emotional loss. What do victims have to face?
In the first place, they suffer from a breach of trust and shame, so naive and needy. But there are also victims who put such an experience in a good way and laughingly tell us how naive they were, and that something like this is guaranteed to happen.
"There will always be new stitches and tricks. »
Recent cases show that the scammers also do not shrink from blackmail.
Yes, so the modes Operandi of Romance-Scam and Sextortion overlap. This is the last manipulation known to us, but we are sure that there will always be new stitches and tricks, because the fraudsters are creative, innovative, stubborn, patient, washed with all the water and very versatile in dealing with the digital media.
The interview was conducted by Maria Kressbach
Romance-Scam Intelligenz schützt nicht vor Liebesbetrügern
Aktualisiert am Donnerstag, 16. Februar 2017, 19:18 Uhr
Ob jemand Opfer von Liebesbetrügern wird, hat nichts mit Intelligenz zu tun. Eine Kriminologin der Schweizerischen Kriminalprävention erklärt, wer anfällig auf solche Betrugsversuche ist. Und sie stellt düstere Prognosen: Die Betrüger erfinden immer neue Tricks und Maschen.
Bildlegende: Die Opfer erleiden nicht nur einen finanziellen Schaden. Viele fallen in eine tiefe Depression. Colourbox
«Wie kann man nur so dumm sein?», fragen sich wohl viele, die über solches Verhalten lesen. Fest steht: Mit mangelnder Intelligenz hat es wenig zu tun. «Vielmehr mangelt es den Opfern meist an Medienkompetenz», erklärt Chantal Billaud, Kriminologin bei der Schweizerischen Kriminalprävention. Sie führt regelmässig Beratungen durch und tauscht sich mit den Polizeikorps über solche Fälle aus.
SRF: Frau Billaud, sie sagen, die meisten Opfer sind nicht medienkompetent. Was heisst das genau?
Chantal Billaud: Oft werden Menschen zu Opfern, die zu blauäugig im Netz unterwegs sind. Sie kennen die grundlegende Funktionsweise des Internets zu wenig und wissen nicht, wie einfach und alle Arten von Informationen gefälscht werden können.
« Bei Romance-Scam gilt leider oft: Hungerndes Herz frisst Hirn. »
Ist nicht auch die Einsamkeit daran Schuld, dass Männer und Frauen all ihre Hoffnungen und Gefühle auf solche Flirts setzen?
Auch. Typische Opfer zeichnen sich durch ein grosses Bedürfnis nach emotionaler Zuwendung aus. Während man bei Opfern von Anlagebetrügern von «Gier frisst Hirn» spricht, muss man hier leider wohl sagen: «Hungerndes Herz frisst Hirn.»
Chantal Billaud, Kriminologin und stellvertretende Direktorin bei der Schweizerischen Kriminalprävention.
Die Scammer scheinen wahre Meister der Manipulation zu sein. Wie schaffen sie es immer wieder, sich ihre Opfer hörig zu machen?
Das sind professionelle Liebesbeschwörer, die sich bestens darauf verstehen, zu flirten, zu umgarnen und den Opfern den Himmel auf Erden zu versprechen. Sie manipulieren die Gefühlswelt der Betroffenen, bis diese blind vor lauter Liebe werden.
Wo lernen die Scammer das? Sind es Naturtalente?
Betrugsbanden im Netz sind unterschiedlich professionell. Es gibt tatsächlich Hinweise, dass von solchen Banden so etwas wie interne Schulungen organisiert werden.
« Je mehr an Gefühlen und auch Geld investiert wurde, desto hartnäckiger will man daran glauben, dass es kein Betrug ist. »
Warum sind Opfer oft so uneinsichtig und wollen monatelang nichts von einem Betrug wissen?
Es gibt Opfer, die einfach zu überzeugt sind, endlich die grosse Liebe gefunden zu haben; der Wunsch nach einer Partnerschaft ist stärker als alle Fakten. Dazu kommt: Je mehr an Gefühlen und auch Geld investiert wurde, desto hartnäckiger will die Person daran glauben, dass es kein Betrug ist. Der emotionale und finanzielle Verlust wäre kaum zu verkraften. Die meisten Betroffenen sind aber sehr rasch einsichtig, sobald sie merken, wie der Betrug abläuft.
Sie sprechen nebst finanziellem auch von emotionalem Verlust. Womit haben Opfer vor allem zu kämpfen?
In erster Linie leiden sie unter dem Vertrauensbruch und an der Scham, so naiv und bedürftig gewesen zu sein. Aber es gibt auch Opfer, die eine solche Erfahrung gut wegstecken und uns lachend berichten, wie naiv sie gewesen seien und dass ihnen so etwas garantiert nicht mehr passieren wird.
« Es werden immer wieder neue Maschen und Tricks auftauchen. »
Neuere Fälle zeigen, die Betrüger schrecken auch nicht vor Erpressung zurück.
Ja, somit überlappen sich die Modi Operandi von Romance-Scam und Sextortion. Dies ist die letzte uns bekannte Manipulation, aber wir sind sicher, dass auch hierbei immer wieder neue Maschen und Tricks auftauchen, denn die Betrüger sind kreativ, innovativ, hartnäckig, geduldig, mit allen Wassern gewaschen und sehr bewandert im Umgang mit den Digitalen Medien.
Das Interview führte Maria Kressbach
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