Wednesday 13 January 2010

Beware of Online Romance Fraud

No more a laughing matter

In August 2007, I made such great fun out of an Australian sheep farmer who had been tricked into travelling all the way to Mali to meet a young and beautiful Liberian bride ready to pay him a hefty bride price. In Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs [1], I had a field day of jest and comical levity which on the serious side included a kidnap for ransom and threats to his life but for the quick thinking of his embassy.

In a new report in The Independent [2], it appears this is a serious issue and no more a matter for idle jest in what is now known as “romance fraud”.

Romance fraud

What romance fraud entails is a fraudulent group setting up a profile of a prospective partner on some international dating site and luring suitors into the possibility of love and romance. The exchanges can get to a point that they are impossible to share with others and therein is the lure.

The target is unwittingly drawn into confidence and faith that it is enough to compel travelling to meet the partner who sometimes is in some West African country. On arrival, the target is kidnapped and held for ransom before release, by which time the “stupidity” of the target is public knowledge and seeking redress is almost impossible for the shame of it all.

Loving into crime

This is even made worse for those seeking same-sex relationships in countries where homosexuality is seen as taboo. There, desperate young men offering undying love of the type one cannot find in more “liberal” countries with commitments bordering of subservience are sometimes an irresistible lure and at the same time leave the target with the impossibility of reporting the fraud to the authorities.

The view is that these crimes are under-reported; the victims are left licking their wounds and rebuilding their pride having been damaged by these unfortunate alliances.

Be wary, be alert

That is not to say one cannot find love online and in these dating forums, it is just important that one be very wary of impossible promises, besides one should find alternative ways of verifying that the prospects are indeed real rather than frauds, in fact, no matter the level of trust developed engaging your embassy in ascertaining facts or even serious crime agencies in detective work has more than a useful end for the purposes of safety.

Once you become the welfare source for your prospect by sending money for everyday things of life, your suspicious should be aroused and be ready no matter the level of lewdness in exchanges has become to cut your losses and run.

The most important thing is not to be ruled by the prospect of the best sex you have never had with the most beautiful thing that does not exist but in empty words and false photographs.

Do not divulge any unique details like full names, full addresses (emails should do) and never your bank account details. If anything of this romance is too good to be true, it probably is, think of yourself being groomed and lured rather than being wooed.

Shamefully, Nigeria and Ghana show up as places where your travel to see your computer lover might well be an ordeal you will not wish on your worst enemy.


[1] Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs

[2] Briton suffers 'romance fraud' kidnap ordeal - Crime, UK - The Independent

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