HongKong Focus

Tell-tale signs that betray a Romeo fraudster

(HK Edition)
Updated: 2010-09-22 08:00
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Their profile picture doesn't quite match their age. They might look older and younger than their claimed age.

- Their profile may be in perfect English but subsequent messages are littered with bad grammar, misspellings, capital letters in the wrong places, and excessive use of exclamation marks.

- They use inspirational quotes and messages lifted from the internet. Try copying and pasting messages and Googling their words of wisdom or declarations of love.

- They are often religious.

- They often claim to be a widow, widower who lost their spouse in a tragedy such as car accident or a plane crash.

- Usually, they are American or English, working abroad sometimes in Nigeria on oil rig, as an engineer or in a professional capacity.

- They are a single parent with a teenage child, usually a daughter. The "daughter" will also message and text the victim to build up trust.

- They prefer to use Instant Messaging but may also have English or US telephone numbers. One blogger married to a Nigerian claimed scammers had girlfriends, wives, or friends living in England who would buy English phone number for them and pay the bills.

- The relationship moves fast, with declarations of love, marriage proposals and a promise to visit coming in quick succession.

- They need cash fast. Maybe they suffer a tragedy: their child is in hospital, they have been involved in an accident in a foreign country and need money to settle out of court; they have been robbed. Sometimes it is less dramatic: they can't access their bank account / cash their wage cheque so could you advance them a little.

Hazel Parry

(HK Edition 09/22/2010 page6)