Online Dating Scams – Are Legal Documents Real?

Sun, Jun 6, 2010


Online Dating Scams generally involve the sending of copies of legal or official documents in order to build up the victims trust.

Official looking documents can appear impressive but how many people check if the information these legal documents contain is real?

This post follows on from my last post about online dating scams – First Bank of online dating scam First Private Bank.

Nobody likes to think they are being scammed but we should never take any legal looking document on face value .. no amount of impressive letterhead or stamps makes a document real. Beware of any documents stating they are copy passports, letters from Embassies, banks or legal business contracts.

A new poster on this blog has forwarded a pdf file of a legal contract her scammer sent her for to me to investigate .. be aware I have no legal experience and am not a private investigator but it took me all of 30 seconds to recognise it as a photoshoped fraud.

Let’s have a look at a few obvious errors (I will not publish all the errors or this just gives a head start to the next scammer looking for online dating victims).

An easy and obvious one to check is the bank details noted in the “contract”. They have provided a bank name, location and swift number.

Each bank around the world is issued a swift number, as an identification number. All you have to do is an online search for a swift number list.

These are the bank details provided in this contract:

As you can see the contract states thier bank is ICICI Bank in Manchester UK but the swift number, without even looking it up, is issued to a French bank (circled in red is FR, this is France) … could this be ICICI? Well no, it turns out this swift code belongs to “France …… BNP Paribas S.A. ……. Paris …… BNPA FR PP” .. so the swift code belongs to a bank called BNP Paribas which is registered in Paris, France.

As a quick reference guide you can use the knowledgerush List of SWIFT codes which lists the most popular banks by country but this is not a complete list. If the code you are looking for is not there just google bank swift code list and do some searching.

Now let us look at the wording in the contract – remember this contract is worth over 1 million Euro to the supposed parties concerned:

As I say I have no legal background but let’s imagine the buyer of the “works of art” claims that not all the pieces were delivered so is witholding the final payment. They then go to court with a legal contract as vague as “certain amounts of works of Art” and expect a judge to rule in their favour … let’s all guess how well they would get on in court!

Finally let’s look at the signatures beside the impressive looking seal on the document:

Fist look at the 2 red circles, the fonts are completely different. This would lead me to believe that the top name is real and is from a real legal document but photoshop (or similar program) has been used to add in the scammers name under the bottom signature.

Now look at the green boxes … the signature appears to belong to someone called P Thomas (or similar) but the name underneath is Collins Clemente.  Signatures can be very difficult to read but if you’re in this situation take a look, does it look anything like the name?

Just to show you how easy this is to do .. it took me about 3 minutes in Photoshop to do this (so imagine what I could do in 30 minutes?!):

Online dating scams come in many forms and scanned documents are so often used to gain your trust, so if you receive any such documents (passports, flight ticket, contracts, etc) do not take them at face value … ask yourself are the legal documents real or fakes?

Remember my golden rule – if anyone online asks you for money they are either a scammer or simply not worth knowing.

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5 Responses to “Online Dating Scams – Are Legal Documents Real?”

  1. sony Says:

    Great Sally
    It is so obvious now. I always thought documents like this can be easily done by anybody. Another good advice, which was what i did is to check with the airline regarding tickets. He sent a flight information which was suppossed to be confirmed to travel to my country however I checked with the airline and they said it was not paid and it was just a reservation made by internet which is something anybody can do so it is not a proof of a real trip unless it is paid. They actually said that they had been receiving calls from different travel agencies regarding that booking…so it seems he was also scamming other people at the same time probably.
    Thanks for your efforts .

  2. Sally Says:

    They are easy to spot when you don’t have your emotions invested in the person … perhaps when people receive such documents they should get a friend, family member or work colleague to look at them, this might help spot mistakes.

    Is there a way for anyone to find out if a ticket has been paid for or do you need to work in the travel industry?

  3. sony Says:

    Well, I think people can find out if the ticket is confirmed or not, that is the only information they give. For example, I do not work in the ticket-industry, but my sister does. I first call as any other person asking for a booking to check if it was confirmed. The guy from KLM told me this was not confirmed and he actually told me the reservation he had for those passengers were not to costa rica, but he said he could not give me more information, so i contacted my sister and talked with this guy and got all the information. To resume, it seems we can confirm whether it is confirmed or not, that is the only information, but this is what we actually need to know.

  4. sony Says:

    By the way…. just to make it clear…I did have emotions involved. We were in a deep, romantic communication for more than 2 weeks which had me all the time thinking about him, thiking about the moment when we met, thinking about all the special things he offered in his romantic letters. I was really emotionationally involved, but I am a very realistic person. I can be emotionanally involved with a person but when I feel his interest is more than sentimental, when I feel he wants to take advantage of me in any way… my emotions stop to let my reality show up. Being realistic have always helped me to have my feet on ground, to be strong enough as to know when should I stop a relationship, even though I may be in love, and I realized that when he called me to ask for the money eventhough I still thought he was the man from the picture which whom I had fallen in love, but when I got to your site and found out he was not that man…it was even easier for me to rid of him without any feeling at all. I loved the 2 romantic weeks I had with him, but I would NEVER EVER send money to any man without knowing him, why should I, why should anybody send money for love…. love is free, is a beautiful feeling and money should never be involved

  5. Rich Woman Hunter (1 comments.) Says:

    Thanks for pointing out what’s is wrong with the pictures. But put in mind that there are a lot of scammers out there more experienced with photoshop and the things around documentation so it should be really difficult to tell what is a scam and what is not just depending on the documents. All you need to do is have a great judgement on things you suspect as scam.
    Rich Woman Hunter ´s last blog ..Where to Meet Rich Women? Try Your Upscale Hotel My ComLuv Profile