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The Logistics of Internet Scams: Love and Crime

The Logistics of Internet Scams: Love and Crime

For a long time, criminal and love stories have been the main topic for the film-making industry. We feel attracted to those smart criminals that create amazing strategies -kind of like Ocean Eleven- to get away with big loads of money. There is a trend to accept crime and danger as a sexy thing, even mug shots have become the most viral thing lately. But as fun and entertaining it can be in the movies or in social networks, this is not the case in real life. Nobody likes to be scammed or left heartbroken, and yet, it happens every day.  More victims worldwide are losing big, and you could be next.

Why is it that love and crime are so connected? Private investigators in Manila and Cebu have discovered that people will do anything for love and criminals know this. People get irrational and do everything they´re not supposed to.   They want to believe in good things, and see what they want to see.  And –worst of all – they even find ways to justify it when others alert them. So sending money to a Filipina you never met might seem crazy to everyone, but not to the victim.

Many online crime schemes are linked to love because of this. People in love are willing to send money to strangers, to receive goods on their name and re-ship them (a practice known as reshipping scam), to receive funds from unknown people in their bank accounts and then transfer to other unknown people, etc. Now when you put it this way, it is obvious that fraud is all around!

People in love are helping their beloved get their jobs done in the Philippines so they can come back home. People in love are helping their fiancées from starving, or from going to jail. People in love are just facilitating a means to access a better way of living. At, least, the victims think they are helping. But they will never ever think of money laundering, or criminal networks or mafia.

So the first thing to watch out for is romance! Online dating sites have unfortunately become criminal hubs and the schemes that are used to scam lovers go a lot further than the traditional “I need money for a flight to get to you”. Many people are victim of investment scam for example. They try to buy property in the Philippines, or invest in a certain stock –which probably does not even exist- because they were convinced by someone. Wouldn´t everyone believe their true love?

Internet has become in a way a pretty dangerous territory, and recognizing the danger and the risks has never been so challenging because staying safe from Philippines scammers  can be hard. Criminals in the Philippines are connected to those in Eastern European and other Asia countries and in some cases even to those in West Africa. Databases of potential victims are sold on the black market, and somehow they even plan to transfer goods and money through the easiest and safest way – their victims.

But avoiding scams and fraud is not impossible. It is a matter of getting informed. There are many dating sites designed especially for those looking for Asian love, and although some claim to have anti-scam protection (whatever that means), there is no guarantee of being safe. So the best method is to read a lot, to search online and to hire professional help when you find anything suspicious. Most online scammers use the same modus operandi, and there are important red flags you can easily spot. Avoiding Philippines romance scams is a first step into a safer online experience, in every aspect.

Knowing the red flags and warning signs is the most important, and staying skeptical at all times.  Know that there is a high risk for fraud in the Philippines, so keep your guard up and be cautious about sharing too much information.  Keep your private data and money to yourself, and see how the relationship progresses.  When you think you might have found someone genuine, contact a reputable private investigator with highly trained investigators in the Philippines for advice.

C. Wright
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