Nigerian money scam targets daters

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Nigerian money scams are some of the oldest tricks on the internet. But now it seems the crooks are not just targeting your pocket book. They're now going after your heart.

We got a hold of a raid video courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service following one of its investigations that took agents all the way to Nigeria. It's an online, dating scam that claims victims on popular dating websites.

U.S. Postal Inspectors say scammers in Nigeria used one woman's photo and they're hiding behind others, to steal from lonely people.

"You've gotta trust the internet as far as you can throw it because it's right there, but you can't see who's at the other end, it could be anybody," said Blad Rojo, Postal Inspector.

U.S. Postal Police shot the video, when they're investigation took them to the source.

"We left Nigeria seizing 145 million dollars," a Postal Inspector.

16 people got arrested, but, the scam continues.

Annette Scardina thought she was e-mailing with a potential boyfriend until she learned a friend of hers had already sent what she thought was plane fare to a scammer in Nigeria.

"It was the same screen name and the same picture, so it was exactly the same person she was emotionally involved with," Annette said.

Someone using a picture of a woman supposedly named Jean Hillson sent an e-mail to an unsuspecting man on match dot com. And soon, Jean was asking for $2,200 to get her back home from Nigeria. The message said "Honey, I'm having problems... How soon can you have it sent?"

Annette has since been scared away from dating online.

"I can meet nuts all by myself," she said.

Tomorrow, it'll be a different dating website. Inspectors say the best way to protect yourself is to pay attention to those disclaimers warning you "not" to send money. With matters of the heart though, scammers know there are some easy targets.

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