36-YEAR-OLD Rebecca Philips was recently scammed by a
man she met in a dating chat room. After months of almost emptying her
account to send money to his alleged sick mother, she still can’t shake
off the negative feelings that crop up in her head once in a while.
After many failed relationships, she decided to try out dating sites
because her friends won’t let her be. They kept prodding her about doing
something different for once and see if her prince charming can finally
emerge from the dating site. She went for it and got burnt badly.
Before taking that plunge, she used to pride herself as being a
rational, realistic and careful woman. But falling prey to an online
scammer was the height of it. After her experience, she learnt the hard
way; not everyone on online dating sites is actually looking for love.
Many of them are after other people’s pockets.
How they operate
Many of these scammers create fake online profiles using photos of
other people both men and women alike. These days, they have even
resorted to lifting pictures of attractive Nigerian men and women from
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn social media platforms just to keep up
the scam. These individuals have no idea that their pictures are being
used by criminally-minded people to defraud others.
These men who prowl on many dating sites looking for women who crave
love and attention profess their love quickly. And they tug at the
heartstrings of these unsuspecting women with made-up stories about how
they need money for emergencies, hospital bills, or clear their goods
from the port.
But they put in all these efforts at building trust just to steal the
money of these women. They also use many aliases, emails, photos,
gender, age and sexual orientation in order to cast their net to catch
as many victims as possible.
Often the scammers use attractive female photo profiles because lots
of men will respond to an attractive woman’s personal ad based on the
photo alone. They also tend to target middle-aged people looking for
stable relationships. The rationale is that this type of person is
likely to be more desperate, gullible and financially stable.
They then post ads with fake profiles on online dating sites. They
also lurk in chat rooms and social networking sites as well as Christian
and other religious-based dating sites. They then spend months chatting
up and luring their naive targets with online intimacy.
Their selling point is falsely offering their victims the chance of
finding true love and happiness. However sooner or later, the
vulnerable hearts who accept their requests and fall for their lies
suffer financial losses and heartbreak. The scammers choose chat rooms
and dating sites because the person in love offers the chance of the
In the past, these scammers get their victims involved in online bank
fraud. They do this by setting up fake dating profiles to meet
potential victims. After they form a relationship, they come up with
reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The
scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their
victims to wire the money out of the country. And the sad part is that
these victims think they are just helping out their soul mate, they
don’t realize they are aiding and abetting a crime.
Scammers caught in the act
Recently, a Cape Town woman and her Nigerian husband, together with
four Nigerian accomplices, were arrested in connection with an alleged
online dating scam.
According to a police statement, the six were to appear in the Cape
Town District Court on Friday on fraud charges. Police said two were
arrested in Burgundy Estate and the others at their apartment in Summer
The arrests resulted from an ongoing investigation into an online
dating scam in which unsuspecting female victims were targeted and
Thus far, seven victims have come forward who have been conned out of
a combined amount of close to R400,000, police said. It is alleged that
the suspects created fake accounts on online dating sites to lure
The suspects chatted with the victims for a while before starting to
come up with different scenarios which would see women depositing or
transferring money to the banking details which the suspects provided.
The 31-year-old Cape Town woman, who allegedly received the money
via money market transactions, was found with R50,000 in cash when she
When one Henry Ogu was arrested by the Nigeria Police Force for his
involvement in a romance scam that saw an American woman duped of
$350,000 (N52 million), he was 29 years old. The Special Fraud Unit of
the Nigeria Police Force also arrested his accomplice, a 42 year old
man, Yunusa Okonkwo for his involvement in the scam.
The victim, a US citizen resident in New Jersey, alleged that
sometime in April 2013, she met Ogu on a dating site and both started a
relationship which lasted for months until the suspect manipulated and
made her to believe that he was in financial trouble in Nigeria.
She further stated that she sent $350,000.00 to the two account
numbers that Ogu provided. The accounts belonged to Mr. Okonkwo who
operates a Bureau de change.
People whose pictures are used for scams cry out
A man identified as David Enyinna Chuks recently cried out after fraudsters continued to use his pictures to defraud women.
This was the message he put out on social media recently, ‘’I am
David Enyinnaya Chuks and that’s my name on Facebook too. Recently,
someone has been impersonating me using my recent pictures to defraud
women. He or she will make them fall in love with him, thereby making
them believe they are talking to the guy in the pictures.
‘’He ends up asking them for money after making most of them fall in
love with him. He will simply lie to them that his mum is sick and
needs urgent attention and some of them, out of love, will send huge
money to him. Please help me publish so that it will go viral in case he
or she tries to impersonate me again.’’
Enyinnaya said the impostor has scammed a lot of people already. He
added that recently five of his friends called his attention to many
fake facebook profiles with his pictures that these fraudsters are using
to scam women as he operates only one facebook account.
He begged Nigerians to help him share the post so that women won’t be
scammed anymore. He added that some of the women are already in love
with his pictures without knowing they are in love with someone else.
Also, one Susan Nathaniel, a bead maker has also cried out about how
her pictures ended up on many fake Instagram accounts. She made
screenshots of these many fake accounts with different names just for
the purpose of attracting and scamming unsuspecting victims.
At one point, she had to send a direct message on Instagram to one of
the fake accounts and tried to reason with whoever was spoiling her
name, but in a funny twist, instead of the faceless person to feel
remorseful about their criminal acts, they called her unprintable names,
insulted her and even blocked her.
In another instance, one of her facebook friends sent N50,000 to one
of the scammers because they thought she was the one asking for help as
he saw her picture on the fake profile. But another friend of hers was
lucky because he had her number. He called her to find out why she was
soliciting for funds on Facebook and discovered that it was all a scam.
He had the account reported to Facebook and it was deactivated.
After being single for four years, Jennifer was ready to date and
hopefully find someone with whom she could spend the rest of her life
with. And for a while, it seemed like she had found Mr. Right as the man
she met on a dating site showered her with so much love that made her
head swell and left her heart throbbing.
But instead of finding love, she became a victim of a cyber-dating
scam artist who lured her into parting with N500, 000. This mother of
two actually believed she had found the man of her dreams on a popular
dating website. They communicated by phone, email and text messages and
she immediately liked his smile and was impressed by his kindness and
his love for everything that she liked.
She was swept off her feet and fell in love with the words and voice
of a man she never met in person. Jennifer recalls all the romantic
details about the seven-month relationship. She says he even proposed
and it was like a dream come true. She admitted, “I made a big mistake.
It’s embarrassing. I feel foolish that I did it.”
In the same vein, Toyin was scammed of N120,000 by her supposed
boyfriend that she met online. They met in person after chatting for
over four months. He had travelled down to her base to see her, spent
time with her and even introduced her to his mother and relatives.
So, it came as a rude shock when she was fleeced of her hard earned
money after her supposed fiancé absconded with her money and changed his
phone numbers too. Every effort to reach his supposed family members
also yielded no results. They were just part of his elaborate scheme to
get her to trust him.
Another victim, Princess said she was duped of her business funds.
She had met Hilary on one of the famous dating sites and thought she
landed herself a good man. He was very caring, attentive and loving. He
said and did the right things at the right time. She also knew
everything about him or so she had thought.
After months of loving, exchanging messages, emails and calls, he
travelled to the United Kingdom. After three days, he called telling her
that his mother was ill, in the hospital and needed money fast for
surgery. She felt for her would-be mother-in-law and had to use the
money her brother gave her to set up a business to pay for the supposed
But when she went back to the hospital the next day, she couldn’t
find the woman anymore. And her number was disconnected too. When she
called her lover, he hung up on her and has not picked her calls ever
since. Ashamed, afraid and broke, Princess was close to depression. But
she had picked up the pieces of her life and is wary of online dates
Recently, a young lady whose photograph was stolen from her Instagram
account by a fraudster and used to defraud randy men on social media,
has had the last laugh as the scam master was arrested after she cried
The lady, Ndifreke Akpabio revealed that she was shocked beyond words
after many people who knew her, called her attention to the fraud that
was being perpetrated in her name. Angry and determined to get to the
root of the matter, she involved the police who traced the man and got
She posted this message on her facebook wall afterwards:
“I woke up to the reality of the fact that in a twinkle of an eye,
one’s personality, character and image, built over a life time, could
crumble with so much ease without the victim being in the know.
Today I write to tell my story. Or is it a story? Well, I don’t even
have the words to caption it in anyway, but do know I was a victim who
knew not what was being done with my pictures.
Instagram, Facebook etc, are lovely apps but in as much, the rate of
impersonation is alarming. To cut the story short, a fraudster picked my
pictures from instagram and opened a Facebook account with my picture
and another name (Olanipekun Lizzy) and duped many intending male
suitors to the tune of N2.5 million.
Unfortunately for him, Karma caught up with him and now he is in
custody of the law enforcement agents. As amazed as I am on this callous
act of impersonation, I would like to use this medium to dissociate my
self from all the fraudulent acts done using my pictures, as I was
never in the know nor do I know the fraudster from anywhere.
For all his deeds, he shall take full responsibility for his actions and would be punished according to laws of the land.
On a final note, I would like to thank the captors of this fraudster
as they have saved me from further embarrassments and also others who
could fall victim to his deceitful acts and evil schemes. Thank you very
much and God bless us all.”