Saturday, 17 February 2024 04:44

I'm a reformed romance scammer - these are the tricks I used to fleece 50 women

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During five years as a romance scammer, Christopher, now 24, posed as an American army man to prowl social media platforms and dating sites in search of his next victim, and successfully tricked up to 50 women into sending a total of £55,400.

Speaking to Money Mail, the self-confessed reformed scammer reveals the deceptive and cruel tricks he used to seduce women across the English-speaking world from the UK to the US, Canada and Australia.

Christopher, who is using a pseudonym and now works as a consultant at fraud-busting group Social Catfish, started scamming in 2016 as a way of making easy money during his second year of university in Nigeria.

‘I had no money and my family was broke so I had to do something. I chose to go into scamming,’ he says.

‘I know people might not understand, but I’m a professional and it was my full-time job. It took months to get to that level, like training on the job,’ he says. ‘I scammed every day of my life at the time.’

Christopher says he used a 40-page bible for scammers in Nigeria entitled How To Make A White Woman Fall In Love With You From Online Chat.

The book, which has been shown to Money Mail by SocialCatfish, offers a step-by-step guide for romance scammers with scripts of romantic phrases, conversation starters and questions that it promises will make vulnerable people ‘fall head over heels in love with you’.

It says the types of women who are ‘easier to get’ and who will ‘fall in love with you ASAP without much stress’ are those over the age of 40.

It says: ‘They are working hence they have the money you need. Also, being single at 40, they are eager for love.’

Once the target is identified, the playbook instructs scammers to do their research before chatting up their ‘client’.

‘You will want to find out everything you can before chatting [to] her as this will help later on. Check her [social media] bio for information.

‘It can be her hobbies, her pets, job, passion, if she has kids, where she lives, what she loves etc.

‘You can take a pen and paper and list them [next] to her name. This is something I like doing.’

For the opening message, it recommends complimenting women on their activities or what they enjoy and asking a question relating to it. It says: ‘You want to go gentle and different. Do not send a “hi...” There are many people that have sent her hi before. You want to send something that will make her like you from the very first text. Something that will make her open your message and her heart for you.

‘For example, if on her Facebook profile she has pictures of her dogs you can use a line like: “Hi, I just spent the last 10 minutes debating if those cute dogs beside you are mountain shepherds or Belgian Malinois. Please help me here ...they are super cute btw”.’

Another suggestion is: ‘You always have the best music in your stories! I’d love to swap playlists.’

Once the conversation is flowing, the book says to ‘make it about her’. It says: ‘Oyinbo women [a Nigerian term for Western women] like talking about themselves. They will think you care and will fall in love.’

Next, it instructs the criminals to compliment women using one of 60 suggested phrases, such as: ‘I can’t believe I found someone like you’ and ‘Your mind is just as sexy as your beauty’.

Women are more susceptible to messages at night, it claims: ‘Get to know her time zone and text her around 10pm. Night is when you can easily get her to fall for you. You will have her full attention, and if the chat goes well, she will sleep thinking about you.’

Scammers are told to take their time in asking for money to build trust first. It says: ‘Spend days talking about random things. It can be time-consuming, but it’s totally worth it.’

When it comes to asking for money, it instructs to ‘ask without looking like you are asking’ for example: ‘When she asks about your day you can tell her it was bad then tell her you are broke, you are behind your mortgage and they will kick you out next week and you have exhausted every means to get money.

‘By herself, she will offer to give you money. If you want a new phone you can tell her your phone is bad and you won’t be able to chat anymore.’

These tricks have been widely used by romance scammers, including Christopher himself. But did he feel guilty for tricking lonely women? ‘No, I did feel bad at the start, but at some point I stopped,’ he says. ‘I was making good money. I never felt for these people and didn’t let any emotion kick in.’

Christopher says he was arrested in Nigeria but never charged over his romance scams.

He adds that he used social media platforms Facebook and Instagram to contact women as well as dating websites. He primarily targeted women in their 50s and 60s who appeared to be recently divorced or widowed.

‘I can take advantage of that. The dating apps make it easy because you can set your interest on your profile to a particular age and it brings up people of that age group,’ he says.

His profile showed pictures of a man he had found online who was in the army and he told women he was American and had been deployed to either Afghanistan, Israel or Korea.

Christopher says he had no prescribed opening line, but said what came to mind when looking at that woman’s profile to personalise the message. At any one time, he would be in one or two relationships, speaking to women round the clock – from his lecture halls to the middle of the night to make up for time difference.

He would wait until he had gained their trust before asking for money. He says: ‘It would depend on the victim how long I waited to ask for money. I have gotten money in three days before but sometimes it takes months. I would make sure to message every single day.

‘One time I met this woman who had a boyfriend but she broke up with him because of me and was giving me $400 within a few days. I said I cared about her and I would do everything for her. She was 35 and white, working at a communications company. She gave me $400 (£317). We talked for four months,’ he says.

The 24-year-old says he had a range of false excuses to ask for money, which included saying he needed money to take a flight and spend the rest of his life with the woman or to replace his uniform: ‘I started with small amounts and always said I would pay everything back.’

His biggest windfall came from a 61-year-old American woman, he says, who sent him a total $30,000 (£23,700) during their one-year relationship. However, she used Social Catfish, a company that verifies online identities using reverse image searches, and was able to track Christopher down.

When he was confronted by the woman whose life he ruined, he says he felt terrible and is happy he no longer has to scam to make a living.

The National Crime Agency says that the majority of romance scams originate from fraudsters in West Africa – Nigeria and Ghana, in particular.

Christopher says he was open with his girlfriends and explained why he was messaging women day and night. ‘There’s a lot of poverty so a lot of people go into it here – they are used to it so it was never a problem.’

Christopher reveals that the biggest tell that you’re speaking to a scammer is if they won’t show their face via video call.

‘Avoid anyone who says they cannot meet because they are in the military or live overseas,’ he says. If they confess love too quickly and demand the same in return, it is a scam.

 

Daily Mail

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