NJ resident lost $25K to ‘fiancé’ they never met
FRANKLIN (Somerset) — Online love can mean that as the heart grows fonder your bank account becomes lighter.
A township resident contacted police to report they had lost $25,000 to their “fiancé” who claimed to be working as a welder in Turkey via wire transfers and gift cards. The funds were sent for two years to an individual they had never met in person, according to police Sgt. Sean Flanagan
According to the victim, the fiance repeatedly asked for financial assistance. The victim finally became suspicious after receiving a phone call from a "kidnapper" demanding a ransom payment.
Scammers not in the U.S.
It's extremely difficult to recover any money after it's been sent through wire transfers and gift cards, according to Flanagan.
"For the vast majority of these frauds, after we begin investigating, we learn that the scammers are not located in the United States. Businesses (phone companies, internet service providers, etc.) that are located in foreign countries typically do not honor subpoenas that we serve them with, often bringing these types of investigations to a dead end," Flanagan told New Jersey 101.5.
The scam fits the FBI's classic description of a romance scam, which includes saying they work in the building and construction industry on a project outside the U.S.
"The scammer’s intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear himself to the victim, and gain trust. Scammers may propose marriage and make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen. Eventually, they will ask for money," according to the FBI.
FBI: How to avoid a romance scam
Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
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