Federal investigators referenced this Instagram post in which Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Millville, posed with a stack of cash held up to his ear like a cellphone. Authorities allege he duped people out of cash in an online romance scam. Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Millville, is charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will have a first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon, the U. Sarpong and his co-conspirators, several of whom live in Ghana, ran the scheme starting in January until this week. They set up phony profiles on various online dating sites posing as U. In one of the scenarios, the scammers would then ask for money to ship gold bars they had recovered while stationed in Syria back to the United States, authorities said. There were no gold bars and the scammers kept the money, authorities said. The victims, who met the scammers via sites including Plenty of Fish, Ourtime.
Military Dating Scams
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Number of cases rose from to in only two years. Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing.
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The photograph of the handsome soldier, in full dress uniform, has been doctored and used countless times by crime gangs as they persuade victims, from around the globe to send them money. I never thought people could lie and cheat like this. He made me feel special and I gave him all I had. No one does. Most days we will come in and there are a few cases that have come in overnight. DS Dalgleish, who has been investigating these types of crimes for the past five years, said women were often targeted via dating websites with fake profiles but also via social media.
And before they know it people have parted with substantial sums of money. In some cases the loss of the relationship was far harder than the loss of money.
‘It broke my heart:’ The cruelty of military romance scams
Weeks later, the U. Department of Justice DOJ filed charges against 80 members of an organized international criminal network composed primarily of Nigerians dedicated to romance fraud and several other cyber schemes. Even more recently, in early September, the DOJ announced the arrest of a New Jersey man for his involvement in a separate international criminal network that defrauded more than 30 victims in romance fraud schemes using fake online profiles of U.
The suspect allegedly carried out the scheme with help from co-conspirators in Ghana. Many of these types of fraudsters feature common characteristics that anyone looking for love on the internet should know. One of the most common romance fraud schemes in recent years involves impersonators using images of U.
According to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, hundreds of women in the U.S. and overseas fall for fraudsters who pretend to be.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.
They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging.
They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas.
Military Scams | Common Tricks & How to Avoid Them
Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people—and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families.
Victims may encounter these romance scammers on a legitimate dating website or social media platform, but they are not U.S. Soldiers. To perpetrate this scam.
Courtesy photo via The Virginian-Pilot. But Sency, a petty officer 1st class stationed in Virginia Beach, has never met or even communicated with any of these people before. The year-old is the victim of a long-running series of scams that steal photos of service members and use them to swindle money out of people online. It works like this: a scammer takes photos of someone like Sency, creates a fake social media account and develops a new online persona — sometimes using the real name of the person in the photo.
Then the scammer will strike up online conversations with women around the world, many of them older or vulnerable, and pretend to be in a hard spot. Sometimes they solicit risque photographs and use them as blackmail. The U. In addition to being in the Navy, he co-hosts a popular military podcast called The Smoke Pit and maintains a sizable public presence for it online. Some of his social media accounts are public, allowing people access to plenty of photos of him.
Many lead back to Nigeria. That fits into a pattern documented in a New York Times investigation last year. And these scammers know the right words to say. Sency said he knows others in the military who have been similarly affected, including soldiers at Fort Bragg and Marines at Camp Lejeune.
How to spot online romance scams
After years of bad luck with dating, she, like millions of people across the globe, started using online dating sites to meet new people. A few years ago, she received what appeared to be a promising email on the dating site Match. The man told her that he was a U. Air Force pilot deployed to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Scammers tend to pose as veterans and servicemembers in romance scams for the same reason, Goldsmith said. “The American people are.
Two members of the US Army Reserve scammed senior citizens, widows, businesses, and a Marine Corps veterans association over the course of nearly two years, according to a now-unsealed federal complaint. Joseph Iorhemba Asan Jr. But it also shows that the threats can come from many different quarters. Attorneys for Asan and Ogozy did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the Army Reserve.
After her husband passed away, a year-old widow in North Carolina began using an online dating service for people over She unknowingly struck up a remote relationship with a phony persona created by Asan and Ogozy, communicating via phone, text, and email. Although they never met in person, the man sent photos he claimed were of himself, as well as a copy of what he said was his US passport. After some time, according to case filings, the man told the widow he was in the Philippines working on a project and was unable to access his American bank accounts.
She never got it back.
Scammers have stolen $405 million from military families since 2012, report finds
Jane Watts became suspicious when the Army officer she friended on Facebook started asking for things. The Charlottesville resident, who had recently separated from her husband, accepted a friend request from a soldier named Jeff Galbraith. He seemed nice online, and it offered the chance to meet someone new.
Bank and lender scams, romance scams, employment scams, benefits active-duty personnel and veterans of the U.S. Army were hardest hit.
Each week, I get letters by email, on my website, by Twitter and on Facebook from women who are sending money to Africa and Afghanistan to help service members come home. This is a scam!! These are not men who are in the United States military. They are scam artists preying on desperate women. I met a sergeant in the Army on Facebook from the Zoosk dating site.
We have been texting since May. His name is Sgt.
Women warned of scam soldier dating sites
Military combat isn’t the only battle service members are fighting. Those were the findings of a recent data analysis by Comparitech. The consumer technology website analyzed scam data through the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Below are the fraud schemes that have led to the steepest losses for military personnel, according to Comparitech.
In one notorious example, Colfax Capital Corp. Impostor scams can run the gamut from fake employers to fraudsters impersonating authority figures.
A few years ago, she received what appeared to be a promising email on the dating site The man told her that he was a U.S. Air Force.
Military members’ social media photos are being used in efforts to scam Americans out of money, according to a report released on Tuesday from Vietnam Veterans of America. The almost page report notes a range of attempts to target servicemembers online, including foreign efforts to promote the “Vets for Trump” Facebook page, Russian hackers making terroristic threats against military families and use of pictures of soldiers in so-called “romance scams,” in which scammers take on false identities and then seek to swindle their victims out of money.
The report said that romance scams, which the Federal Trade Commission said accounted for more lost money in than any other type of consumer fraud, often target “older, lonely Americans who are relatively new to social media and the internet. The profiles of military personnel are among those being used in the deceptions. Staff Sergeant Sherri Vlastuin is an Instagram influencer with over 36, followers. The Vietnam Veterans of America report said that “scores” of social media accounts have stolen Vlastuin ‘s identity.
Stars and Stripes reported that some individuals who have been deceived by accounts imitating Vlastuin ‘s subsequently contact the staff sergeant and expect repayment.
Internet Scams Warning
Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal.
4-signs-online-romance-scamjpg more than 30 victims in romance fraud schemes using fake online profiles of U.S. military personnel.
The FBI is advising consumers to be wary when using online dating sites after the agency saw a 70 percent annual increase in reported romance scams. Cybercriminals are reportedly using online dating sites to trick victims into sending money, providing personal and financial information, or even unknowingly acting as a money mule by relaying stolen funds. Learn these tips for keeping yourself—and your financial accounts—better protected when meeting people online.
Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives a victim into believing they have a trusted relationship and then uses the relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator. The initial grooming phase can last for days, weeks, or even months , and by that time, the victim may be extremely vulnerable to the scam. Techniques of romance scammers are varied and may include:. However, elderly people, women, and those who have lost a spouse are often targeted.
Fraudsters have used dating sites to find and target victims for some time, but there is a new twist on romance scams that involves international criminal networks using dating sites to recruit money mules.