Romance Scams, Part 15
PlayBook, Part 1: “Developed Patterns”
Over the last two and half (2 1/2) years that we have been studying the evolution of the criminal activities of Romance Scammers we continue to hear the words “that is right out of the Scammer Playbook” and yes, it seems that most of the romance scammers follow a set pattern, a basic script or series of plays. What we will try to do is to expose some of these basic patterns (or plays) so that they will become red flags to internet users who are being entrapped, attacked by these criminals.
Now we see several different patterns depending on the target victim and each will be
explored separately. These are:
1. Female Avatars: to scam male victims
2. Male Avatars: to scam female victims
3. Military Avatars: mostly to scam female victims.
Each of these Romance Scams is similar but takes different approaches in the little traps and snares that are used to ensnare the heart, emotions, and mind of the intended victim. By nature, Romance Scams first start out by developing an emotional bond (a romance) with the victim and then use that psychological and emotional control to either steal from the victim or involve the victim in the scammers criminal activities; using the victim bank account for a certain “business” transaction they do in the country of the victim, using the victim identities like passport, address, telephone numbers to scam other victims in the same area. Of course the victims are not aware of these.
Very good romance scammers groom (psychologically and emotional program) their victim over period of weeks or months before they start the scam and are much more successful in reaching their ultimate goal of stealing as much funds as they can before they are caught or the victim is completely drained of any resources and discarded. Whereas young or inexperienced romance scammers jump too quickly into the scam (within days some as early as 48 hours into the scam) and get caught before they have full completely psychologically ensnared their victims.
All these scams start out with a soft introduction from a social or dating website where the scammers introduce themselves (as their Avatar) and start by finding common ground, whether it be the need for companionship, dating, friendship, a game you are playing, hobbies you like, travels, support group sites, or sports. To the scammers it does not matter, as they are just trying to establish a foothold in your life, and start building a cyber-relationship. Next come the exchange of pictures (The Avatars, Red flag if you can check the picture with Google image or Tin Eye) and the start of the lie (scam) begins in earnest. These pictures are to ease your mind that here is someone who is special and might be interested in you, someone who is normal and has a nice persona and life that you would like to be friends with. Everything that they write to you will be now colored by the image of the photograph of the Avatar that was sent to you.
A good and experienced Romance Scammer will slowly lead you on and just drop very small hints that this friendship could grow and be different by evolving into a relationship. Now this is where the scammer quietly gathers as much information about you from settling questions to looking at your social websites, then harvesting as much information as they can, copying, and reviewing all the conversations that you have been doing with them to find the points that they are looking for in order to start entering into your life. These points of entry could be:
4. Games Sites you attend or play
5. Loss of a loved one (especially be careful in grief support sites)
6. Financial hardship
9. Places that you want to visit and travel
10. Sports teams that you follow
11. Friends on Facebook, Skype, NetLog and other social networks.
12. Members of online clubs, such as Photography, Recipes, Reading, Writing, Hiking, and Running, etc.
Scammers have infected the internet and are looking for any common ground that they can develop that could lead you to open up your heart and life to them so they can start the psychological and emotional program that will lead you to become enamored with them and slowly entrapped in their scheme. The story that they spin is developed to get you to emphasize with them and start opening your heart to them, again this depends on:
A. The type of romance scam they are using on you will depend on whether you are male or female.
B. The range of age you are probably looking for if it is a male avatar (if you are around 40 years old, then these scammers will be the same age or a bit older), and if it is a female Avatar she will be between 24 and 34 years of age regardless of your age.
C. The type of friendship, companionship, or romance you are looking for.
As soon as possible, these scammers will begin to try and get you to leave the protection of the site that they meet you in, and then they get you to start communicating directly with them, first with email, then to one of the Instant Messengers (Big Red Flag). Here is where they (the scammers) can begin to program your emotions using some of the latest and very effective psychological techniques that are designed to breakdown your internal safeguards and start the emotional entrapment. This is a technique that is used to isolate you from your friends and other safeguards, first to make you feel good about starting a new friendship, then step by step they begin to softly demand more and more of your time and emotions as they slowly attempt to bind your heart and mind to them. This may take days or even months.
The scammers build a profile and a story life to meet your wants and needs as they can be anything (that you want) as they are making up a life to meet the dreams you have for your life, and will tailor their story to meet your dreams. Step by step these criminals will give you promises of a new life that meets all your emotional needs, wants and dreams. This is done by first giving you the emotional support (Beautiful words of love and support, Red Flag) and then building a promise of a new life with and for you (Red flag).This is reinforced by making you feel that you are the center of their life, by words and letters of endearment, making your heart feel loved and wanted.
Now, they will start gaining your empathy with the story of some losses in their life (Red Flag) and how you will also fulfill that loss to get you invested in them also, tugging at your heart strings. Always it will involve a loss of their loved one (wife, husband or boy/girlfriend) (Red Flag) and most of the time they will have been left with a child (usually only one, Red Flag) that is being cared for by some family member in another country, or a Nanny (Red Flag). All this is to gain your empathy, and with the intention to start getting you invested in their life so that you will see yourself as the one who will fill in the emptiness in their life and become the mother or father of a child that has lost his/her other parent.
Many of the “developed patterns” are easy to be identified early if you have taken the time to educate yourself on the “Red Flags”; however, experiences scammers take longer to tip their hand as they have learned to be more patient before spring their trap and starting to implement the scam. Understand that the scammers are studying our “AntiScam” websites and are continue to evolve and adjust their “Play Book” as they find that they are not being effective in ensnaring new victims. Sadly to say, usually the victim does not realize that she/he has been scammed after it is too late. The bottom line is never ever agreed to do anything that deals with money with people you have known in the internet. You do not really know them as you have only met them through the internet and have no personal or physical knowledge of them. You think they are your friends, but they are not, as they are suffocated Pathological Criminals, who are out only to steal your money or in some way involve you in their criminal enterprise. You think they are the only people who can accept you just the way you are. They are NOT. They are dangerous as what they do can be categorized as a pathological crime.
“Do Not Feed the Scammers”
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