The “Hook” ?
A US Military worker, assigned overseas, got a box of gold bars from a tribal warlord and needs help shipping them back to the United States.
An attractive young man or women “Likes” a lonely customer of a popular dating site, tries to flatter them with pledges of love and life-time relations, but there’s one thing I need: Your money to help move a box of gold bars into the United States we can share forever.
That’s the pitch I recently got after just signing up on a very popular Internet dating site.
The sender: An army nurse doing special service for the United Nations in Afghanistan.
Return to Sender
Here’s what I received just this past week after being urged to sign up at a popular internet chat room:
“I am working as a special agent with the UN undercover.
Hello dear friend,
how are you doing? I miss you so much and I know we can’t get together right now; we are just too far apart and I perfectly understand that. But somehow, I still have faith (BIG faith) that in due time, this will all come to an end and we will be together … forever (as what I’m always asking from God). Being far from you is not that easy, Honey. It sometimes drives me crazy and makes me want to be with you at this very instant. Though we’re apart now, believe me, I can assure you that it doesn’t change the way I feel about you. You’re such a blessing for me. Thank you for everything … for loving me I mean it, Honey. Well there is something i will like to tell you, which really makes me uncomfortable and even insecure here now in Afghanistan. Why I feel unsafe and insecure here is that there was a package given to me by saving a life of one presidential member of state’s daughter here in Afghanistan. So I was rewarded with the package…I told my self not to tell anyone this, but I feel unsafe and insecure ..The package contains Gold bars worth 5.2 million US Dollars…..
because of the trust and love that I have for you, I will like you to do me a favor by sending this package to you to keep it till I return home after this last mission and I’m even trying to get a leave here as soon as possible to come back to the state…..I don’t want to lose the Package, because all that i have worked for is in the package and is going to be aimless when i go back empty-handed without the package..Everything about the package is Legal but I need to get some documentation done on it before i can trade it and Alright without any term of drugs or any bad thing to cost you harm.
I thought about it again to go keep it at a security company here till I’m ready to leave here back home in your arms.. it will cost me 6,300 USD for keeping it safe and getting it documented. My love, honestly i don’t have enough funds on me and i will like you to help me out and will make sure I give it back to you as soon as I get back home.”
According to Chat Room customer service agents, they are still getting about three complaints a week on this kind of scam.
Think nobody would fall for it?
“Yahoo News” reports the very same scam prompted one female victim to commit suicide after being scammed out of more than $90,000.00.
The report goes on, “In one case, a conspirator claimed he was a U.S. soldier stationed in Syria who had recovered gold bars worth $12 million and needed help bringing them over. He sent her a fictitious airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her, along with a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as an Israeli citizen and UN delivery agent.”
It concludes, “She wired him more than $93,000 and they planned to meet at the Baltimore/Washington International on June 13, 2018. The next day she died by suicide.”
According to “Yahoo Daily News” quoting the “Vineland Daily Journal” there’s already been one arrest in what is turning out to be a multi-million dollar Cyber scam.
“CAMDEN, N.J. – A Millville man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he defrauded more than 30 people of $2.1 million in an elaborate online dating scheme where he and conspirators acted as United States military members attempting to ship gold bars home.
Rubbin Sarpong, 35, was to appear before Judge Joel Schneider in Camden federal court Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
And it was the exact same scam I was targeted for according to the news report:
“From January 2016 to September 2019, Sarpong and several conspirators — many who reside in Ghana — reportedly set up profiles on various dating websites using fake or stolen identities posing as United States military personnel stationed overseas.
“They contacted victims through the dating websites and then pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with them, wooing them with words of love,” according to the criminal complaint.
After starting a relationship with the victims, Sarpong and his conspirators would ask them for money, authorities claim, often for the claimed purpose of paying to ship nonexistent gold bars to the United States.
What can you do to avoid being ripped off by a “Love Scam”?
According to the US Federal Trade Commission:
How to Avoid Losing Money to a Romance Scammer
Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
If you suspect a romance scam:
- Stop communicating with the person immediately.
- Talk to someone you trust, and pay attention if your friends or family say they’re concerned about your new love interest.
- Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
- You can also browse the comments on our blog posts about romance scams to hear other people’s stories:
- Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.
If you think it’s a scam, report it the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the website or app where you met the scammer, too.
If you paid a romance scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.
My “Offer of Love and Gold Bars” has been reported to Federal officials who say it will be passed on to investigators.
And I am still getting new “Likes” from new young “Friends” who want to capture my heart with offers of Love and Devotion, and end up requesting money or merchandise as a sign of “devotion”.
Like the so-called “Nigerian Prince Scam” offering millions of dollars in return for a few thousand dollars, or personal bank account info, the Gold Bar Scam is not expected to go way any time soon.
And you could be potentially the next victim after the next email of chat you open.