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Romance scammers won’t just break your heart, they’ll break your bank account as well

Updated: Feb 15




 By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

 

E.D, a 74-year-old resident of Barrigada, looked forward to Valentine’s Day. She “met a good-looking gentleman” on Facebook, with whom she had been communicating for about a month.


My daughter warned me that it might be a scam and that it might be some guy from Nigeria,” she said. “We had been exchanging love letters on messenger every day it seemed so real.”


E.D., who lost her husband two years ago, ignored her daughter’s repeated warnings and continued engaging with the man.


“I didn’t believe her at first until the gentleman started asking me for money. He said he needed $300 because his mother was sick,” E.D. said. “That’s when I stopped responding to him. It was humiliating.”


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the FBI has put out a warning about romance scams, often targeting the elderly.


“Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They also usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers,” the FBI said.


“Seniors are racking up more than $3 billion in losses annually, and elder fraud has remained a growing problem,” the FBI said.


An IT programmer for the government of Guam said cyber frauds extend beyond romance scams.


“They pretend to be financial advisors, dealing with the stock market and crypto,” said Arden Bonto, who works at the Port Authority of Guam. “My official position is systems programmer. My forte is IT, but I have enough cyber security exposure, to be able to protect the Port's system.

 

Bonto said a majority of the scammers operate in Africa and India.

“But technically they can be anywhere,” he added.

 

How can one detect a cyber scam?


“Fake profile is number one, and they never appear in a video chat,” Bonto said.

 

A fake profile usually lacks personal information with random posts and pictures. “They are very inconsistent,” Bonto said.

 

He advised social media users against sending money and any financial information. “Educate yourself in cyber romance scams before engaging in online relationships,” he said.



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