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I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Mon May 21, 2018 1:44 pm

My dear friend met someone online whom I believe is a scam artist. How can I verify that he is, and how should I approach this topic with my friend? She thinks she's falling in love.

The story is that this man is 39 years old from America, but he is volunteering for 10 months in the Peace Corps of Nigeria. He is a Christian and is looking for a Christian woman to share his life with. He will be back in the U.S. in December. He currently does not have a cell phone, so he cannot video/Skype chat with my friend, but once he does, that will "prove" that he is who he says he is (i.e., that he is the person in the photos he's sent her). He contacted my friend via Instagram and his Instagram account has about 60 followers and he follows about 200 people.

I've done a small bit of research -- the Peace Corps story sounded like BS to me, and I found some news articles from the Peace Corps of Nigeria that suggest the program is not currently funded. The website says membership is open to Nigerian nationals only. The U.S. Peace Corps is not currently serving in Nigeria. My friend said that the guy gave her an explanation for how he's from the U.S. but serving overseas and that the explanation made sense to her. I, of course, think this sounds like total crap.

He also told her several weeks ago that his wallet was stolen, but he reported the theft to the Peace Corps people and they took care of it.

The footnote to this story is that my friend was scammed last year by someone in Nigeria passing as a U.S. military officer. She sent him money and a cell phone and lost a few thousand dollars. She has told this new person all about the previous scam and told him how hesitant she is about him due to that experience. He continues to say that he understands her concerns and that he will keep on loving her and proving himself to be trustworthy.

The whole story is extremely suspicious to me, but I know my friend trusts him because he has not yet asked her for money. I think the whole "I lost my wallet" story was a way to leading up to asking for money. I also believe that he now knows she's someone who will, in fact, send money to a stranger in another country, and so he is just biding his time until she completely trusts him before pulling out the rug from under her and demanding more money.

Can anyone help? Does this story sound familiar and has anyone else been scammed with a similar story? I also have photos of the person and looked through several websites of "known scam artist" photos and I did not find him. I would be happy to post the pics but I worry about intruding on the privacy of an innocent person from whom these photos were stolen.

Re: I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Mon May 21, 2018 6:29 pm

It sounds very much like a scam. If she did not close her E-mail address then the E-mail address was probably put on a "Suckers List" and she is under another scammer's influence. Is there any way of getting more information about this person she is in contact with?

E-mail addresses, Photos, Phone numbers are all helpful.

The best thing you can do is be her friend and monitor the relationship behind the scene. If the person she is involved with asks for money or gifts it will be a scam 100% of the time.

Re: I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Mon May 21, 2018 7:20 pm

Oh wow. I didn't realize that she would need to change her email address. This current scammer found her via Instagram, which I thought was kind of strange, but if her Instagram account is linked to her email address and the other person had her email, then maybe that's how he found her. Anyway, I know for certain she did not change her email address after the first scam.

I have photos. I also know his Instagram account, although it's set to "private" so I cannot see anything other than his profile pic and username. I did a reverse Google image search on the pics (she's sent me additional photos) and no luck. I also found a website for scam artists and the pics didn't show up on there, either. I just feel like I have no "smoking gun" that will demonstrate this guy is fake, so she's never going to believe me.

But thanks. I'll keep being her friend and supporting her and encouraging her not to send money. It's just so hard to watch her go through this. :(

ETA: I just Googled her email address -- she has a very public profile (for reasons I won't get into here so that I can protect her privacy to the extent possible), so even without her email address, if a prior scammer had her full name, which he definitely did b/c she sent him money and a cell phone, he could have put that up and it would take someone 3 seconds to find her online. And now this makes so much sense why this person contacted her via Instagram (which is public) vs on a dating website. Oh gosh. I just feel awful.

Re: I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Mon May 21, 2018 8:15 pm

Please forward whatever information you have concerning this to me so I can take another look. My E-mail address is below.

Then there is a couple other things. If she sent the money by Bank transfer then she should contact her bank and try to get the payment(s) reversed if possible. Then she should get her bank account number changed so the first scammer cannot abuse it.

She should file a police report concerning the first scam if she hasn't already.

If she sent the money by Western Union or similar service she should contact them and report the receiving information to them so they can block future payments to the scammer.

If she is a USA citizen then she should contact whoever does her taxes as some scam losses can be claimed on her income taxes.

Re: I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Tue May 22, 2018 12:12 am

Thank you. I just sent an email. And thank you for this advice -- when this scam unravels, and I'm sure it will, I will pass along that additional information. I know that she reported the profile of the last person, but I do not think she filed a police report. That's a very good idea.

Re: I think my friend is being scammed -- help!

Tue May 22, 2018 6:10 am

We do not close free profiles. The scammer will just open a new one in minutes that is not reported on an anti-scam site. There is a topic here:
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