Romance Scams in Nigeria: Prevention and protection

Over the years, Nigerian romance scams have undergone a significant upgrade in their methods. Nigerians are nevertheless becoming more conscious of their safety and security when it comes to meeting scammers online. Through dating apps, social media sites, and other channels, con artists use passion and the promise of love to coerce valuables, mostly money, from their victims.

In the United States alone, following a report from the Federal Trade Commission, over 21,000 people were victims of scams in 2018, with over $143 million stolen. Over 75% of persons defrauded in the last five years were women, making women the most frequently targeted victims worldwide.

It is impossible to overstate the effects of these love scams, with the majority of victims experiencing an emotional breakthrough caused by the expected promise of a spouse who never existed in the first place. Also, many Nigerian romance scammers steal valuables from their victims.

This article aims to examine the actions of romance scammers, the consequences of punishment, and all relevant information.

How the romance scam operates

Social media and dating websites have both been used by scammers to reach their victims. Most scammers have extensive knowledge of their victims’ daily routine, family, and place of employment or residence, which their victims have posted on their pages. One of the most popular styles of scammers is targeting women in their late fifties who seek to fall in love again.

Most romance scammers use fictitious identities to trick victims into thinking they are sincere and have their best interests at heart. Scammers continually use the images and identities of other real people online; in Nigeria, the most frequently used identities are those of aid workers, military personnel, persons of African royalty, and foreign-based professionals.

Scammers are astonishingly skilled at manipulating people. They go through the process of luring their victims with love and winning their trust by having conversations that seem designed to give the victims the impression that the scammer is interested in having a lasting relationship with them.

By sending the victim phoney texts, video calls, and short videos, this trust is developed. Once trust has been established, the conversation quickly shifts from social media and dating sites to a more private setting of phone calls and emails. Scammers are more likely to prey on victims at this fragile point, following that the victim’s enduring love has developed into deep affection.

Most con artists pretend to need money for personal emergencies or to make an investment for their future success for the planned marriage with victims. Scammers would typically claim to have a sizeable sum of money available for investment, and then demand money from victims to access the investment. There are countless strategies used to defraud people, but they all have one goal in common: to get as much of the victim’s money as possible. 

Despite scammers being extremely meticulous in their methods, there are some key indicators that victims can rely on to identify them. Below are several crucial actions to take ahead of identifying a con artist online.

Avoiding romance scammers in Nigeria

You should be able to recognize specific characteristics to determine whether someone you don’t know is a con artist. Here are some actions to undertake to avoid being scammed.

1. Examine the profile carefully

Scammers employ fictitious accounts that they have either bought or stolen from others. Make thorough identification checks to catch scammers. Check the profile’s details, the photos and the dates they were uploaded, the person’s previous friend list, and other things.

You could also thoroughly research contacts by looking them up on Google or requesting their handles from their other accounts.

2. Keep a low profile

To avoid romantic scammers, it’s imperative to maintain a low profile on dating websites and social media. These con artists typically profile their victims by looking up information about their lifestyle on social media before acting.

You can protect yourself from becoming a victim by avoiding topics like work culture, leisure activities, and general family information. Make sure only your friends can see the social media activity you are engaging in.

3. Always have a video call

The simplest way to catch scammers is to engage them in video conversations. Technology has advanced over time, and online scammers’ tricks can be, put mildly, deceitful. When conducting short video calls with victims, scammers typically upload pre-edited, brief videos lasting no longer than a minute.

To catch the con artist red-handed, insist on having a lengthy conversation with them. Ask them questions that they could not possibly have thought of, such as your name and location.

4. Never send money without talking to your bank

Request the use of protective measures from your bankers before sending any money. As an illustration, some banks use technology to send money and track it to the intended account. 

This was used by a New York-based bank in 2018 after a woman sent over $40,000 to a soldier’s account in Afghanistan, and the money was then transferred to another account in the country before ending up in Brazil.

Following a complaint from the victim about the scammer blocking her on social media, the bank instructed the Brazilian authorities to arrest the account owner when he arrives to make a withdrawal. The money was returned to the victim after the con artist was captured.

5. Always talk to someone

You can achieve great success in problem-solving by speaking with your family, friends, and other close contacts. 

As an illustration, consider the case of a woman in Imo State who was about to be conned by a man who wanted to send her an iPhone 6 via Emirates Cargo and claimed to be a professional in America. She asserted that she received a call and email from Emirate Airlines informing her that her cargo was prepared for pickup in Abuja. For clearance and delivery to Imo, she was instructed to pay 300,000 Naira. She reached out to her friend, who in turn contacted Emirates Airlines Nigeria via their website after speaking with a friend but was informed that cargo only arrives at the Lagos airport and not Abuja.

Conclusion

With harsher punishments for international scams, scamming can land you in jail for up to five years. Fraud on the internet and other related offences are against the law. As a result of the recently passed anti-money laundering law, which requires banks and other financial institutions to report transactions exceeding $10,000 from foreigners, fraudsters have also come under increased scrutiny.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does scamming involve an inside job? 

Actually, no. Instead of receiving tips from insiders, scammers typically profile their victims by looking through their accounts.

Is it wise to provide scammers with my personal information? 

No, you shouldn’t ever divulge any personal information, including your home address, email address, or phone number. Use a newly created email if you must give it.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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