Dating fraud

Gambia-dating-scamMost people will be familiar with the kind of online scams that send fake e-mails from banks, asking them to click a link and enter their password, or messages from unknown Africans willing to share their million-Euro inheritance with the recipient of the e-mail, but not before for their notary fees are paid for first. These kinds of scams are getting less and less successful as ever more people are aware of this form of online fraud.

But what most people are unaware of, is that dating fraud is actually one of the largest and most successful forms of online scams. Dating fraud is a multi-million Euro business, run by well-organized Nigerian criminal syndicates who target European men and women via dating sites. These criminals work out of mostly Western African countries like Gambia, all together in a kind of “boiler room” behind a series of computer screens, simultaneously chatting and e-mailing with dozens of unsuspecting love seekers at once.
Using random pictures of good-looking men and women found online, they pretend to be singles looking for a relationship, while in reality they are only after their victim’s money. And in order to cash in, they play a very sophisticated game of seduction, deception and manipulation.

Gambia-dating-fraudMost of them claim they’re Europeans or Americans who currently work or study abroad, but will return to Europe within the next couple of months. After some initial online getting-to-know-each-other, in which the scammer knows exactly what to say and which buttons to push in order for his or her victim to feel like this could be true love, the couple will start discussing how to meet each other in real life. And just when this is about to happen, the scammer unexpectedly runs into trouble (usually a medical emergency with their family), and they desperately need money to make sure everything will be okay and they can finally meet each other. Or they claim to almost be out of money, but they happen to have gold or diamonds which they can’t convert in their current country, or they can’t take it with them on the airplane. They say they want to ship the gold or diamonds to you, if you send them money through Western Union first.

It may seem like something you would never fall for, but remember these scammers are very good at seduction and manipulation, they know how to play someone and how to make themselves seem trustworthy. They have an answer for every resistance and are experts in making their requests seem like the most normal thing to do. And their targeted victims are in a vulnerable phase of their lives and are more receptive of the attention and compliments than they are on guard against potential frauds.

Swindlers only use Western Union, because this way they can receive money without being traced or without identification. If anybody you don’t know or whom you’ve never met asks you to send them money through Western Union, be alarmed and assume it’s a scam.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Banjul and Gambia Tourist Scams Forum.

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