A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud.
Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
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So, be on your guard when you receive a request from a friend.
For dating scammers, Facebook is an ideal tool, giving them plenty of information about the daily lives of their targets and how to approach them.
Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money.
This might be for requests for gas money or bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc.
Most victims are aged between 40 and 70 and come from all walks of life.
They are often lonely people at a vulnerable stage in their lives, still mourning the loss of a spouse, for example, or trying to come to terms with a divorce.
Recently, they have been joined by con artists from the East Asia and Eastern Europe.
When online, they pretend to be a different person.
There is usually the promise that the fictitious character will one day join the victim in the victim's country.