Women aged over 40 often talk about becoming invisible to society. But, once they hit that milestone, there is one group of people who are suddenly very visible – scammers.
Adekunle Adedeji is a former romance scammer from Nigeria who has repented his ways and now works for Social Catfish, an online company which provides reverse search technology to potential victims.
During the 23-year-old’s days as a university student, he moonlighted as a catfisher and even wrote a how-to guide to help other romance scammers get their victims to fall in love with them.
Adedeji’s main tip in the guide, seen by 9news.com.au, is to target women over 40.
“They are working hence they have the money you need,” the guide notes.
“Also, being single at 40, they are eager for love.”
Adedeji, who also goes by the name Chris, told 9news.com.au that during his scamming days he would routinely seek out older women on social media platforms like Facebook.
“The kind of woman I would target were older women, aged in their 40s, 50s and 60s,” he said.
“They are more vulnerable. A lot of them are divorced. They live alone, their kids are grown up so they are lonely and they need someone to talk to them.”
Last year, Australians lost $40.7 million to romance scams, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch.
Those aged over 65 lost the most to romance scams, with each victim who made a report to Scamwatch being ripped off by $21,400 on average.
Another tip included in Adedeji’s catfishing bible is to mine a potential victim’s social media pages for clues about their hobbies, and then use them to approach a woman.
Pets often provide a way in, Adedeji writes in his guide, with many owners sharing photos of their beloved animals freely on social media.
“You can use something like, ‘Hi, I just spent the last 10 minutes debating if those cute dogs beside you are mountain shepherds or Belgian Malinois. Please help me here…They are super cute btw’,” the guide suggests.
“I’m obsessed with your puppy! How long have you had them?” is another example pick-up line.
Adedeji also advises scammers to give their victims lots of compliments and show their sense of humour by telling jokes. Using good grammar is essential too, he writes.
“This is one mistake many guys make. They don’t care about their grammar and most ladies especially foreign ones are very particular about grammer (sic).”
“Making grammatical mistakes is one thing that can spoil all the work you have been doing to make her like you.”
When sending messages, timing can also be critical, Adedeji writes, adding that late evening is often a good time to make contact.
“Get to know her time zone and text her around 10pm,” he advises.
“Night is when you can easily get her to fall for you. You will have her full attention, and if the chat goes well, she will sleep thinking about you.”
Adedeji told 9news.com.au that when he was scamming women he always pretended to be in the US military. He would find a photo of an attractive man in US army gear and make a fake profile on Facebook.
At first he felt no qualms about ripping off his victims, Adedeji said.
“It was fun getting the money, and I actually needed the money,” he said.
But there was one particular victim, an elderly woman from Texas, who he began to feel bad about, after he had stolen about $28,000 from her over several years.
“At some point she became sick, and she was depressed. I started feeling bad because I’m human too. I was wondering how I would feel if someone did this to my mum,” he said.
Adedeji said he decided to come clean and tell her the truth.
“I called her on a video call, because I wanted to show her my face,” he said.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, I have scammed you.’
“She burst into tears, I expected that. I was expecting her to block me too.”
The woman didn’t block him, however, Adedeji said,
“She said she liked me for who I am and she doesn’t want to stop talking to me. She adopted me like a son.”
The woman introduced Adedeji to Social Catfish, and he now works remotely for the company full time.
Adedeji said his advice to women in Western countries was to always try to meet any potential love interest in person, or at least speak to them on a video call as soon as possible.
“When you meet someone online for the first time, try to get their phone number and speak to them over the phone – or meet them in real life,” he said.
“If you are talking to someone and they won’t show their face on a video call they are fake.”
- It takes only a few conversations for someone you met online to declare they have strong feelings for you. They will often try to move your conversation from the platform where you met, asking you to communicate via chat or email.
- Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you about themselves.
- They may spend a long time gaining your trust – often weeks, months or even years – before spinning an elaborate story to ask for money.
- Their messages are often poorly written, vague and escalate quickly from introduction to love.
- If you don’t send money straight away, their messages and calls become more persistent. If you do send money, they will ask you for more.
- They don’t keep their promises and always have an excuse for why they can’t travel to meet you and why they always need more money. (Source: Scamwatch)
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