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It’s identifying who they actually are that’s the hard part.
That is why this individual remains a fugitive.”It also explains why romance scams are on the rise: It’s a lucrative and easy crime to commit, and easier still to remain anonymous and beyond the reach of authorities.
She even holds out hope that one day Charlie will repay her, as he promised to do so many times. There can’t be a man in this world that could be this horrible to have purposefully done what he’s done to me.” The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do.
Otherwise, there is no doubt that he is a heartless criminal who robbed her and broke her heart—and who is almost certainly continuing to victimize other women in the same way.“I can’t even imagine a man, a person, that could be this bad,” she said. They spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.“Behind the veil of romance, it’s a criminal enterprise like any other,” said Special Agent Christine Beining.
“The perpetrators will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target.
Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop.” The subsequent investigation led by Beining resulted in the arrest of two Nigerians posing as South African diplomats who had come to the U. to collect money from the woman on behalf of Charlie, who claimed he was paid million for a construction project he completed in South Africa.
This is one of the most popular scams in online dating.
“This is a very difficult crime to prove,” Beining said.
“It’s not just the finances, it’s the emotional part, too—being embarrassed, being ashamed, being humiliated.” Even now, though, she remains conflicted.
A part of her still wants to believe that Charlie is real and that their relationship was real—that the e-mail exchanges about church and the phone calls when they sang together and prayed together meant as much to him as they did to her.
The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her million—transferred to the U. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.
In July 2016, the two Nigerian co-conspirators pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scam, and a federal judge sentenced them each to 36 months in prison last December.Victims—predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria—are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.