Internet Dating Scam No 1 – The 419 Scam

Fri, May 15, 2009

Online Dating Scams

The 419 Scam is the No1 online dating scam, also called a Nigerian scam, but it comes in many forms and not only from Nigeria.

We have all heard about the “please cash my money order or cheque for x millions and you get 10%” letters and emails, well that is a 419 scam.

You may not fall for the big pay day scams but are you savvy enough to avoid the more subtle Nigerian scams?

419 scams are now so prevelent on the internet that a cyber sport has been developed around it, called scambaiting, which involves people tracking and communicating with scammers to frustrate their efforts.

Ways in which a Nigerian or 419 scam works on internet dating sites:

1. Registering Their Profile on a Dating Site

The first hurdle for a scammer is getting a profile registered with an online dating site.

Go to any of the big free dating sites and you will soon spot a scammers profile, it will be in bad English, have a username ending in something like 4u or 4luv and be gushing about love, marriage, having children and finding soulmates.

These are the new recruits but the experienced scammers are far more savvy.

Also they don’t only join free sites, as this shows, trusted sites like Match also have their share of scammers and these will be the better ones as they are making enough money to join the paid sites.

2. Hooking a Victim

Their first message to you will usually be very complimentary, stating the many things you have in common (just about everything) and supplying their email or chat address.

They want to get you off the website and chatting privately as quickly as possible.

Love will be declared very quickly and soon talk of visiting you and marriage will begin.

They will spend building your trust until they are sure they think you are mentally planning a future together.

Often they will begin to refer to you as their husband or wife, long before you have ever even met (not that you are going to meet but the promises will keep coming).

3. Request for Money

Then it starts and can come in a million forms. The requests for money may start small but will grow with time. Here are some of the more common requests:

  • Money to buy a phone card so they can call you (the exchange rate is worth the trouble).
  • Enough to buy a webcam so you can see them while you talk.
  • A family member is in hospital/trouble and they need to quickly borrow money. They will seem embarrassed to have to ask and make gushing assurances about paying it back.
  • Flight, visa or translation fee money (all backed up with a travel agents letter setting out the costs and reasons for requiring cash not direct payment). This is so they can come to be with you .. of course at the last moment there is always a reason they can’t actually travel.
  • A request to cash a living allowance cheque and send the cash by Western Union .. gosh their employers screwed up again and they can’t cash it at a local bank.
  • Cash to get a works project off the ground, they have the job but can’t afford to buy/hire/transport the equipment and the profits from the job will be huge .. of course they’ll pay you back with interest.
  • They have been working abroad and the company went bust/fired them/employer attacked them/etc and they need to get home to UK/US/Germany or wherever.

4. A Reason for Everthing

If you become at all suspicious they will have a reason for everything and because you want them to be genuine it will be easy to fall for their explanations.

You will also they find that if they ask for 850 pounds or dollars and you say you can only let them have 400 they will suddenly find a reason that 400 is just enough to cover or they will get the rest from someone else .. even though two days ago you were the only person in the world that could help them.

Don’t think for a moment that only the gullible fall for the Nigerian scam, we discussed this in the post about what an online dating scam is and there are many examples on the net of ordinary intelligent people falling for these dating scams.

If you think you may be chatting to a scammer and want some support then head on over to forum. They have a database of known scammers, their current email addresses and photos of innocent people the scammers use from the internet.

In my next post I will tell you how to investigate and find out if you are chatting on an online dating site to a 419 or Nigerian scammer.

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Online Dating Scams

61 Responses to “Internet Dating Scam No 1 – The 419 Scam”

  1. Sally Says:

    Hi Stephanie

    Yes Travelers Funds are the same as BTA.

    He is using a typical scam and if you sent money for BTA then he would have an accident or be mugged on the way to the airport and need money to pay the hospital or replace his ticket and passport. This would go on for as long as you are prepared to send money.

    Please send him a message simply saying you are aware he is a scammer, you have kept records of every conversation and email between you and if he attempts to contact you again you will report him to the FBI or Scotland Yard or wherever is relevent to your home country. Say nothing more than this.

    Set up a new Yahoo account and only give the username to people you trust. On FB simply don’t accept any new friends, for a while, until he gets bored of trying. Don’t answer any phone calls from him, if he calls your home and you hear his voice just hang up.

    It can take a few weeks before they get bored and move on to their next potential victim, particularly in your case as they have put so much time into “grooming” you, but they will give up when they see no reaction at all from you.

    Remember all he needs is you to try to express your anger on the phone or by email/chat and he will see it as an opportunity to convince you of how sincere he is … it’s all lies and they are VERY good at telling you what you want to hear.

    Thank God you only lost £300, learn a lesson about how these people operate and move on to find a real man who will give you the love you deserve.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Sally,
    Thank you for the advice. I have done all of it but he is not stopping as you said would happen. What is different about this is that we did not meet on a dating site…I have never been on one. He randomly requested me on Face Book. That is how we started talking. He recently took down his Fb page and made a new one switching his first and middle names…he goes by Anthony Smith Omini. When I went to his new site I couldn’t believe in his bio he wrote that I was the love of his life and actually wrote my first and last name on there. It really kind of scared me.

    Also at one point he begged me to come there. He said I would need about three thousand dollars though. What would have happened if I did go? The thought terrifies me!

    He has also been leaving messages…of course he is mad that I didn’t send him the money and I am the one stopping us from being together but he says he will find the money and call me from the airport to pick him up. Then I will see he has never lied to me…

    Is this kind of behavior in line with what others have experienced? I am so nervous…please assure me he really won’t show up…it is manipulation…right?

    Thanks so much!

  3. Sally Says:

    Hi Stephanie

    It’s only been 24 hours, just keep ignoring him and he’ll get bored. You’re sounding rather worried so I am writing directly to your email address and we will work this out ok.

  4. teresa Says:

    all this is sounding familiar to me too. money to buy a present for his sons birthday, money to replace a stolen phone, then he not have enough money for flights. needs me to send money, etc,etc. fortunately i have only sent £120. it was FCO who made me aware. i will start ignoring the man who is pestering me now.

  5. Sally Says:

    Hi Teresa

    Did you find something on the FCO website about BTA? I have looked on the Home Office site and found nothing about his problem, which is disgraceful really.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I have a friend who is involved in one of these things for a few months, down to the last detail it follows the scam and shee just won’t see it. The night before he was to “fly” to meet her he was shot in a bar!!! OMG, Now I’m waiting for him to ask for to send money for the hospital bill. How can someone fall for this crap! She still believes he is the love of her life!

  7. Sally Says:

    Hi Anonymous

    I’m afraid people fall for scammers all the time, it’s not about reality but about the dream they mentally weave.

    Of course it’s a scam and of course he will ask for money. If she sounds doubtful about sending money for his hospital bills then he will send faked letters from doctors and even sometimes letters from the government demanding the money.

    All I can suggest is you write out every possible step he will make (taken from everything you can read about how scammers operate) and read it to her BEFORE the next step occurs. Either she will have to eventually accept you have become clairvoyant or the scam is foloowing the usual patterns.

    You could aslso say to her that if she thinks he is genuine then there is no harm checking him out … if she agree’s get in touch via the ask a dating question link at the top of this blog and I’ll arrange for you to send all his known details and see what I can dig up.

  8. Alva Budge Says:

    I must say i wish spammers peruse this content and verify how effortless it is to be human and value information.

  9. Nova Says:

    I met “frank” at It follows every single thing I have read on scammers. I did not want to believe I had been a victim. He had me pretty deep and fortunately I only sent him $150 so he could send me his “paycheck”. He even went so far as to create a check that looked very real and sent a picture to me. But the check did not look quite right. The routing number was only 8 digits and on a real check they are always 9. All of the pictures looked real as well, down to a “son” that really looked like him. Or at least of the man he was trying to portray. It has taken awhile, but I now see him for what he really is.

  10. Alison Says:

    This guy called Tom contacted me about 10 days ago. I can’t believe I’ve fallen in love with this bloke who obviously doesn’t even exist. I have been taken in so much him and wanted so much for it all to be true. I lost my partner about 10 months ago now so I hate to admit but are still very vulnerable. At first I was taken in although things did not seam quite right. He was a solider, mother Welsh and father American with a son Mike at a military academy in the states. His wife was killed in car accident 12 months ago. He was working for the American Military based in Iraq, in a camp outside Baghdad. Writing all this down its sounds ridiculous but I was taken in. He got me off the dating web site to the Yahoo chat line and then proceeded to get me to tell him everything about myself I sent photos of my flat, the town in Devon I live. I fell in love, the hours I spent chatting you would not believe. I forgot to eat never cleaned my flat my whole life revolved around the chat line.
    There were odd things which did not seam right, he called his room on the base home which I don’t think army personal would do. Got eh time difference wrong, he said it was 4 in actual fact it is 3. If I asked how hot it was he would say 75% not 75 degrees.

    Then this week another son popped up from a previous relationship who was in Africa (Nigeria) at university he was put on line for me to chat to. He was 20 and was calling me mummy which made me feel slightly sick.

    Tom wanted to come and see me he could get a pass but it cost £100 in cash all his money was paid into account in the UK which he did not have access to. Because he was in a war zone all his money was paid into this account there was 950K in this account for us to start a new life.

    Anyway eventually he persuaded me to send £100 by Money Gram to his friends wife in Wales. I actually went to the Post office and mailed this but have now cancelled it and got my money back.

    He keeps contacting me still declaring love and have I send the money. I suppose he picked on the wrong person because I actually have nothing. I had to borrow this money.
    I cant go on it sounds so ridiculous I was taken in but I was.

    His name was Samuel Thomas Anderson
    The woman in Wales I had to send the money to was Sian Jenkins
    Mid Glamorgan CF34 9UD

    I only hope that this helps anyone else taken in by this person.

  11. Sally Says:

    Hi Alison

    Wow what a well paid soldier, £950,000 in the bank and he can’t get hold of £100 … it is laughable but no surprise you fell for it.

    You are far from alone Alison, their scams are designed to get you off the website and onto chat as quickly as possible. They then start calling you their wife and mother to their children to get you to feel part of their life and responsible for them.

    Don’t beat yourself up about it, anyone can fall for a scammer I’m afraid.

    So sorry about the loss of your partner and of course it has left you vulnerable and wanting someone back in your life. All you can do now is fight back … please go to the police and ask to be put in touch with the fraud squad and pass on this woman’s details. If you can stop this happening to just one more person you will have done the world a service.

    To anyone reading this … soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan can withdraw cash in the same way you or I can go to a cash machine and withdraw cash. They DO NOT need to pay to connect a phone line or email or arrange leave (holiday). Do not fall for it, it’s a scam!!! Also please learn, DO NOT move from the website onto chat until you can be really sure you are not being scammed.