Romance scam

Romance scam

A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, and/or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.[1]


Newspaper and letters

In the 1980s prisoners within the Louisiana State Penitentiary in unincorporated West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, United States operated an advance fee fraud scheme. Advertisements, mostly of men seeking men, appeared in newspapers in Canada and the USA. In each case, the scammer sent the mark an image of an attractive person and gave a pressing reason to send money. If the mark complies, the scammer asks for more money.[2] Kirksey McCord Nix used the scheme to raise enough money to attempt to buy a corrupt pardon from the Governor of Louisiana.[3]

The Internet

Scammers post profiles on dating websites to fish for victims. Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur.[1]

Many scammers favor religious dating websites such as Christian sites, because the users are more complacent. Religious site users tend to assume that because they are on the religious site, their fellow users will have high moral values.[4][5]

Rhonda McGregor, an online moderator for the ROMANCE SCAMS Yahoo! group, stated that many romance scammers avoid answering personal questions and ask their victims many questions.[1]

In 2011, Sarah Lacy managed to update the story from Nigeria, where many earlier 419 scams had evolved into online-dating scams. The scammer was "more a long-distance emotional prostitute, providing a service men appear to be happy to pay for," on the one hand, but on the other was also often a brilliant entrepreneur who made the business reporter in Lacy feel a "broad smile [spread] across my face as we spoke, even [making me break] out in laughter once or twice."[6]

Common variations

Narratives used to extract money from the victims of romantic scams include the following:

  • The scammer says their boss paid them in postal money orders. The scammer wants the mark to cash the money orders, and then wire money to the scammer. The forged money orders leave the banks to incur debts against the victims.[7]
  • The scammer says they need the mark to send money to pay for a passport.[7]
  • The scammer says they require money for flights to the victim's country because of being left there by a step-parent, or husband/wife, or because they are just tired of living in their country[8] and somehow never comes, or says that they are being held against their will by immigration authorities, who demand bribes.[9]
  • The scammer says they are being held against their will for failure to pay a bill or requires money for hospital bills.[8]
  • The scammer says they need the money to pay for the phone bills in order to continue communicating with the victim.[10]
  • The scammer says they need the money for their or their parents' urgent medical treatment.[10]
  • The scammer says they need the money to successfully graduate before they can visit the victim.[10]
  • The scammer offers a job, often to people in a poor country, on payment of a registration fee. These are particularly common at African dating sites.[citation needed]

Cultural references

  • The movie Raskenstam (1983) is based on a true story about a man who seduced over 100 women and convinced many to support various of his projects financially.


  1. ^ a b c "Online Romance Scams Continue To Grow," KMBC
  2. ^ "Biloxi Confidential." Crime Library. 11. The Angola Lonely Hearts Club.
  3. ^ "Biloxi Confidential." Crime Library. 16 The Corso Murder.
  4. ^ "Seduced into scams: Online lovers often duped," MSNBC. 2.
  5. ^ "West African Advance Fee Scams," United States Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
  6. ^ Lacy, Sarah, "The Chilling Story of Genius in a Land of Chronic Unemployment", Tech Crunch, May 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
  7. ^ a b "Seduced into scams: Online lovers often duped," MSNBC. 1.
  8. ^ a b "International Financial Scams – Internet Dating, Inheritance, Work Permits, Overpayment, and Money-Laundering," United States Department of State
  9. ^ "ROMANCE SCAMS," US Diplomatic Mission in Ghana
  10. ^ a b c "Russian women scams - and how to avoid them". Moscow Russia Insider's guide. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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