While New Jersey numbers are down, there are still many who are “romanced scammed’
There is, believe it or not, a strong connection with the lonely, romance and money. More lonelyhearts, unfortunately, are getting scammed at an incredible pace.
The site socialcatfish.com came out with a very interesting study with numbers from the FBI Crime Complaint Center that shows nearly 70,000 Americans lost over $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022. $1.3 billion! That figure is close to 3x more than the $550 million lost in 2021. My biggest question was how can this happen?
What’s changed is the time that the scammers are taking to get your money. They will develop a “loving relationship” with the target and work them for a while, setting them up for taking their money slowly and steadily with more emphasis on taking larger amounts as the relationship blossoms.
It is a full-time job for these cretins. Scammers go to great lengths to steal photos and partial profiles from others on social media so that they can present themselves as handsome or beautiful luring victims into the scam. They have scripts that they use that work to entice their victims into their net.
Most scammers are from Nigeria and operate out of Nigerian office buildings 24/7. The “companies” that are scamming compete with each other and have become one of the best sources of revenue for the country and individuals. It is a full-time job and a mission-based business that doesn’t stop till they get your money and lots of your money.
How do we shape up here in New Jersey with these scammers? According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and Social Catfish, the good news is that we went from the 6th most scammed state in the country to 15th. The bad news is that in 2022 here in New Jersey 361 victims lost $14.2 million dollars, an average of $39,400 per victim. That $39,400 is never coming back.
Those 361 victims here in New Jersey are only the ones that reported the loss. There are many more victims, experts say maybe twice that number, that never report the scam because they are embarrassed to admit that they got taken or are currently in a “relationship” with a scammer and have ignored the signs.
The three biggest ways that scammers attack their victims:
Posing as a Celebrity: Honestly, they pose as a celebrity and ask for money for a new film, project, whatever they have coming up. Celebrities don’t pretend to “fall in love” and then ask for money.
Cryptocurrency Scams: Your fake”love interest” will ask you to put money in his/her cryptocurrency account as either a “shared” account or as a suggestion for you to make money. There is no cryptocurrency account and any money given for that purpose is gone.
Military Romance Scams: There is a trend for scammers to ask their target to send money because they are “stuck” in some country and need help getting out. Victims then send thousands to their “love interest” and they never seem to get out of a predicament. If anyone in our military needs assistance they have many resources available, they don’t need your money.
My heart goes out to the trusting victims that through their compassion, loneliness and romantic blinders have been taken for thousands and thousands of dollars. When the scam is up these people have tremendous pain, losing trust in a relationship they thought was real and in many cases suffering the loss and evaporation of their life savings that they have worked so hard to obtain.
I heard that many people on the outside accuse the victims of being stupid. Well, over 75% of those victims have a college education, 84% of the victims are middle class or lower class and many, as a result of the scam, faced or experienced financial ruin.
I have shared with you the results of those who have been scammed, thousands more are being scammed and never reported. I’m glad that here in New Jersey our numbers are going down but until there are much fewer victims I feel some compassion. When looking for love make sure it’s real. Make sure you can reach out and touch them and for God’s sake don’t give them money.
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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.