Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

‘I had no idea you could fake that’ says retiree who lost $2.5m and was forced to sell her home after Skype calls | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


A RETIREE was saved by her friends after falling victim to a sophisticated romance scam that cost her her home and future.

The victim who spoke out under the false name of Sue detailed how scammers used advanced technology to make their lies more believable.

The victim of a romance scam who has spoken out under the fake name of Sue has detailed how a scammer duped her with sophisticated technologyCredit: CBS News
Sue was left homeless after she sent the scammer over $2 million and was forced to sell her homeCredit: CBS News

Last year over 64,000 Americans lost over $1.14 billion due to romance scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Between 2018 and 2020, Sue gave her scammers almost $2.5 million, believing she had met her future husband via the dating site Match.com.

“My goals were to retire and see the world. I’d met my financial objectives…I was on top of the world,” she told CBS News this week.

“I’ve never been married and I thought ‘You know what? If I want to get married now is the time to do it.'”

‘BAD ACTORS’

This was when she met a man called Santos via Match.com who claimed he was a businessman from the UK who traveled the world for work.

Sue detailed how she often forgave Santos’ last-minute calls away which would mean they did not meet in person as she had previously put work first in life.

In addition to this, Santos used sophisticated technology that is being harnessed by scammers to gain the trust of their victims.

“I Skyped with him. I had no idea that you could fake a Skype,” Sue admitted.

Andrew Whaley, senior technical director at Norwegian app security company Promon previously told The U.S. Sun how “bad actors can now convincingly impersonate real people.”

“New technology is enabling an updated form of catfishing, where a fraudster can generate artificial videos or images, often using real human faces or voices,” he explained.

‘That’s the scary part,’ says official who watched man robbed of $200k & home – law means she can do nothing to help

Sue and Santos would regularly speak to each other via email and on the phone with Santos sending her daily poems he had supposedly written for her.

“If I made a mistake it’s that I didn’t cut it off then,” she told the news outlet.

Like many scammers, Santos came into the relationship hard by love bombing Sue within the first month of speaking, as demonstrated by his daily poems.

He quickly started talking about marriage and with it, the subject of money, asking Sue if she would help him pay for business expenses that he would pay back.

“$150,000, $250,000, $75,000…make a check for $250,00 and then make another $50,000 check,” Sue recalled.

“People say ‘How can you give money to a stranger?’ He wasn’t a stranger at that point.”

‘PSYCHOLOGICAL MANIPULATION’

Over 18 months, Sue had sent so much money she was forced to sell her home, and in August 2019 she resigned herself to the fact that she would most likely “end up being poor with him.”

“I just thought ‘Okay, I can live with him and be poor it’s okay, as long as we’re together,'” she said.

It was not until August 2020 that she discovered Santos was a scammer when she received a phone call from the Secret Service informing her that she was the victim of a romance scam.

“When he said there wasn’t even a Santos around, that was hard to get my brain wrapped around,” Sue admitted as she noted the “psychological manipulation” used to “hook” victims.

Cyber expert’s advice on spotting a romance scam

A cyber expert with knowledge of romance scams spoke to The U.S. Sun and warned users of red flags to look out for. Roger Grimes, a defense evangelist at cyber-firm KnowBe4, listed 8 main questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the person trying to move you off the dating site to an unmonitored app?
  • Are they asking lots of questions before revealing info about themselves? This could be a bid to establish common ground and build trust.
  • Are they avoiding phone calls and video chats and coming up with excuses?
  • Do they say they travel a lot or that they’re not in the same country? This is often a lucrative part of the scam as they will need money.
  • Have they said they are traveling on a certain day and something unforeseen happens, so they need money to get there?
  • Do they ask for deep, dark secrets, or incriminating or nude photos? This could be used for blackmail further down the line.
  • Have they said they have been scammed before? This is sometimes a ploy to build trust and convince you that they’re not a scammer.
  • Do they have a sob story? Like their spouse died suddenly or left unfairly? Or they’ve been left with kids or massive bills to pay?

Read more here.

“Living with it now is the hardest of hard,” she admitted as she continues to struggle to get her life back on track.

The retiree faced the prospect of living in her car and ending up on the streets if it was not for some friends who took her in.

“They took me in for the first eight months which was really good because I think I would have probably committed suicide,” she admitted.

“You don’t know how they mess with your brain. They manipulate. They punish you. It’s dramatically changed me,” she said.

Match.com has been contacted for comment.

Skype had no statement to make but shared tips on how to avoid online dating and romance scams as well as protecting your online safety.

The U.S. Sun previously reported on a man who sold his home and divorced his wife after falling in love with a woman he never met.

Sue admitted that she was suicidal after discovering that Santos was a scammer and did not even existCredit: CBS News

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), chat on 988lifeline.org, or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.



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