Scammers will often create a fake online persona and use a fake profile picture as the basis to contact their intended victim, via online dating website or social media or email. The scammer will use a tried and tested approach to lure the victim into believing that their intentions are genuine, gain the victim’s trust and give the illusion that they and the victim are in a romantic relationship, albeit the victim is likely to have never met the person.
Scammers will use high pressure tactics, such as constantly reaching out to the victim online, maybe chatting several times per day, making false promises and sharing intimate photos of themselves or pictures of others, which they claim to be of themselves, with the victim. All of this is to build trust and the illusion of intimacy with the victim.
Once the scammer has the victim believing that they are in a romantic relationship, the tactics will change to con the victim out of their money, sometimes through making up stories about a situation that has happened to them, about them being desperate, or having no one else to confide in and needing money.
At the start, the scammer may not even ask for the money directly. It may be that all they talk about is needing money, and in the end the victim themselves may offer the money. The scammer will start by asking for relatively small amounts of money, they may even promise to pay back the money, however this will be the start of an escalation until the sums of money are much larger. Be aware that there may be a number of permutations on the example above, so that you don’t fall victim to this scammer and end up with the scammer stealing your heart and your money.
You should be wary of online friendships or relationships that appear to be moving ‘too fast, too soon’ and where you are inundated with messages, where it all seems to good or too perfect to be true.
You should never send money to anyone you have never met and have only ever communicated with online or by phone, particularly when the online relationship appears to be moving in a romantic direction.
If you have fallen victim to an online romance scam and have been conned out of your money, you should always report it to the RCIPS.
Report to the RCIPS, tel.: 911
Fraudsters will typically send you a short message service (SMS), or more commonly known as text message, with an enticing offer or promise to lure and grab your attention. Normally, there is a return telephone number included or you are asked to respond with a text message.
Over the years, the text message fraud has become increasingly sophisticated, with the fraudsters conducting their research ahead of their fraudulent campaign of text messages being sent. Fraudsters may operate alone or more commonly as part of part of large group. Fraudsters can be based anywhere in the world. They may target individuals or their fraudulent campaigns may be widely targeted.
What we know is that the fraudster has somehow gained access to their intended victim’s mobile phone numbers. This is important to know, as it means that they are able to call your mobile number as well as send you text messages.
Typically, the fraudster will send you a text message, informing you that you have won a competition or have been chosen to receive a free prize or purporting to be your bank notifying you of fraud of your account. The text messages are cleverly worded to grab your curiosity and entice a response from you.
The text message may ask you to respond by calling a telephone number or sending a text message or the fraudster may telephone you.
If the fraudster asks you to respond by calling a telephone number, it may be that the telephone number is an expensive, premium rate number and they may deliberately keep you on the phone, asking multiple questions, to rack-up phone chargers for you as well as to gather your personal information, to be used for future compromise.
If the fraudster ask you to respond by sending a text message and you do send a text message reply, this will be an indicator to the fraudster that you have been ‘lured’.
After you send a text message in reply, the fraudster may telephone you by way of follow-up and may use the call to ask you for your personal, sensitive or your payment card information. You will find that the caller is very persistent and it is hard for you to end the call.
You should always be suspicious, when you receive a text message from an unknown mobile number, telling you that you have won a competition, particularly when you have not entered the competition, telling you have been selected to receive a prize or telling you that your account has been compromised.
You should never reveal your personal details to a person unknown to you, who may send you a text message or telephone you.
If you have been defrauded via telephone or text message, you should always report it to the RCIPS.
Report to the RCIPS tel.: 911
The fraudster will telephone you and pretend to be from a legitimate organisation such as your bank or a government department, or may impersonate an authority figure, such as a Policeman.
The fraudster will make up a ‘story’ and that is likely to sound convincing, such as ‘your bank account has been compromised’ or ‘there are suspicious transactions on your credit card’ or ‘there has been a suspicious withdrawal from your account’ or ‘you have an unpaid bill and enforcement action has been taken against you’.
Throughout the telephone call, the fraudster will seek to appear professional and efficient; they will make you feel a sense of urgency, whilst giving you the impression that they are able to assist you and you must act quickly.
The fraudsters typically have a ‘tried and tested’ approach; they may start by asking you to confirm your name, address and landline number. Be aware that they may already have these details from some other compromise. Then, they may ask you to confirm whether a list of financial transactions showing on your bank account were performed by you – of course, you will not recognize these as they have been made-up by the fraudster.
Next the fraudster will tell you, that they can cancel the suspicious transactions, but in order to do so, they need to confirm your bank or credit card numbers. It is this information, that they are after, and once they have this, the telephone call will soon end and they will begin to use your card details to defraud you immediately.
There will be permutations on the example above, however the key thing is that they will want you to reveal your bank or credit card or other sensitive information, such as your date of birth, your passport details and the like, which you should never do.
You should always be suspicious and you should never provide your information when you receive a telephone call from unknown person or telephone number and you are asked to provide your personal, sensitive information or bank or payment card details.
If you have been defrauded via telephone fraudster, you should always report it to the RCIPS.
Report to the RCIPS tel.: 911
Sextortion is a particular type of ‘extortion’ which happens online where demands for money are made to the victim on the threat that intimate or explicit images or videos of them, will be revealed to their friends, family, peers or their email contact list.
The explicit images or videos may have been sent by the victim believing the scammer was an online love interest or may have been obtained without the victim’s knowledge or consent.
In order to obtain images or videos without the victim’s knowledge or consent, the scammer may have hacked into their intended victim’s computer to take control of their computer’s camera or webcam to take images and videos, unbeknown to the victim.
There have also been cases, where the scammers pretend to have taken control of the victim’s webcam and demand money in return for not revealing the images or videos, when in fact they don’t have any images or videos of the person in the first place.
There is no shame or embarrassment in being a victim of sextortion.
You should know that consenting adults sharing intimate or explicit images of themselves with each other is not a crime, however the extortion threats and demand for money is a crime.
You should be aware that there is no guarantee that once you pay the money demanded by the scammer(s), they will not make more threats and demand more money.
You should be wary of sharing intimate or explicit images or videos of yourself with online persons, particularly those persons unknown to you.
You should never be bullied into sending money to scammers based on their threats.
If you have fallen victim to sextortion, you should always report it to the RCIPS.
Report to the RCIPS tel.: 911