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"According to trial evidence and plea documents, once the perpetrator gained the victim's trust and affection, the perpetrator would convince the victim to either send money or to help carry out fraud schemes," according to the Justice Department.
"For example, the defendants admitted that they used romance victims to launder money via Western Union and Money Gram, to repackage and reship fraudulently obtained merchandise and to cash counterfeit checks." According to court documents, one woman who believed she was a victim of the romance scam said that she'd met a man online in October 2011, who'd asked her to reship merchandise to an address in Pretoria, South Africa, in return for a ,000 check, which turned out to be bogus, the Sun Herald newspaper in Mississippi reports.
Security experts say many victims do not report such crimes to police, so actual losses may be much higher.
Schwartz is an award-winning journalist with two decades of experience in magazines, newspapers and electronic media.
"As part of the scheme, more than 0,000 in fraudulent payroll was wired to defendant Olaniyi Jones, a Nigerian national who impersonated a European woman interested in romantic relationships to dupe mules into wiring the proceeds of the scheme overseas," according to the Justice Department.This is just the latest case in which the Justice Department has charged foreigners - including Nigerian nationals - with phishing attacks and fraud as part of romance scams.In 2012, for example, federal prosecutors announced charges against individuals involved in a phishing ring that harvested individuals' personal details for identity theft purposes.Prosecutors say the gang used a variety of email addresses - largely free webmail accounts registered with Google's Gmail service and Yahoo mail - to communicate with victims.Some of those email addresses, the Justice Department says, allegedly included: The Department of Justice has asked anyone who believes they were a victim of the gang to come forward and fill out this questionnaire.
Phishing-related fraud and email-based scams are big business in numerous countries, including Nigeria (see Churchgoing Nigerians Drive Business Email Attacks).