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.