But soon after, she learned that the son had had an accident at school and needed help paying hospital bills — urgently.“Of course I was sending money again to Western Union,” Firefly says.So they have no idea that these scammers are out there.” While Mays admits that they can’t get victims’ money back, they can help get victims out of scary situations, especially when romance scammers resort to extortion.The most common complaint Scam Survivors receive is for “sextortion,” where scammers make tapes of sexual encounters with their victims, then press them for money in exchange for keeping the video private.“My friends advised me to go online and try to find someone to share my life with,” she says via Skype.Firefly spent a lot of time on her profile, thinking she needed to be entirely honest and open if she hoped to really connect with someone.One day, scrolling through an online forum, she met Wayne Mays (not his real name) from the UK.
Then, after about a week of heavy correspondence, Firefly’s boyfriend announced his son’s birthday was coming up, and suggested she send him a gift. It was pretty gratifying, she says; the son was ecstatic.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, online romance scams account for higher financial losses than any other internet-based crime.
It’s not uncommon for victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
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