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How to avoid getting caught up in a romance scam over the holidays, according to an ex-con artist


Throughout the vacation season, individuals usually open their wallets and hearts to others, however as an ex-romance scammer informed, fraudsters know this and can reap the benefits of it.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported victims of all rip-off sorts gave up $379 million in 2021, $165 million greater than was misplaced the 12 months earlier than.

The full was consultant of your complete 12 months, however Christopher Maxwell, an ex-scam artist, informed in an interview Wednesday the best time to reap the benefits of somebody is throughout the previous couple of weeks of December.

“Everybody desires to be with somebody through the holidays,” he mentioned.

By his lived experiences of being a romance rip-off artist in Nigeria, preying on single, middle-aged girls, he now reveals the ways he used to embezzle upwards of $20,000, to assist would-be victims keep away from related fates.

Now he’s a recovered fraudster working with Social Catfish, an organization devoted to stopping on-line scams by reverse search know-how, however Maxwell entered into the fraud world throughout college, at a time when lots of his classmates have been scamming individuals on-line.

“They’ve some huge cash within the checking account…they repay lectures,” he mentioned. “I’m broke, I simply need footwear.”

After shopping for an Android cellphone, Maxwell tried to rip-off a whole lot of ladies by a faux profile on Instagram.

“I am gonna inform her I am broke, I am in Iran (or) South Korea deployment,” Maxwell mentioned he would write to girls on-line. “I need to transfer again from South Korea to the USA and I want cash to pay for that.”

Throughout the vacation season, Maxwell says, individuals ought to be cautious of any on-line profiles saying they’re on deployment in different nations. He mentioned the persona of navy personnel who shouldn’t have the funds to go dwelling tugs at individuals’s heartstrings.

“I need to see the children, I need to give her an enormous hug, I need to see her stunning blue eyes,” he mentioned.

Maxwell focused an older lady named Lisa, who was from the USA. She was in her mid-60s and was lonely. The 2 conversed by a faux Instagram profile, and Maxwell gained Lisa’s belief to the purpose the place she gave him $20,000.

“She wanted somebody to like her, ” Maxwell mentioned. “She requested me to present proof that I actually liked her, so I despatched her pizza and flowers.”

From there, the 2 began a “relationship,” however after Maxwell scammed Lisa out of $20,000, the lady began getting suspicious. Lisa stopped sending Maxwell cash and that is when he determined to return clear.

“I known as her and I informed her, ‘My title is Christopher. I am sorry for what I did to you,'” Maxwell recounted. To his shock, Lisa was not offended however impressed at how effectively he had scammed her.

“I’ll work and I am going to pay you again,” Maxwell informed her, however Lisa mentioned she wouldn’t settle for the cash.

“She observed I used to be sort of lonely… I dwell in a really unhealthy world,” Maxwell mentioned.

This interplay was a turning level for Maxwell, who vowed to begin serving to individuals keep away from scams and shield themselves on-line.

“I simply felt a very responsible conscience,” Maxwell mentioned. “I might not be completely happy if I let somebody do that to my mother…I need individuals to cease being victims of scams.”

Maxwell says doing a video name is a simple manner to determine if somebody is who they are saying they’re. Asking inquiries to match concrete “proof,” like a driver’s licence, can also be one thing he advises.

Social Catfish reported 15 several types of scams from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) information, with funding, romance and extortion fraud having the best sum of money misplaced.

“The most typical sort of rip-off reported in Canada is extortion, accounting for almost 30 per cent of all incidents over the previous 5 years,” the Social Catfish web site explains. “Whereas romance scams account for under about 2 per cent of incidents, they comprise 20 per cent of all {dollars} misplaced over the previous 5 years, which is the second-highest charge amongst all rip-off sorts.”


In accordance with CAFC, “important traits” of fraud, identification crimes and related cybercrime are impacting extra Canadians.

“Globally, Canadians rank close to the highest when it comes to size of time spent on-line and are placing extra private data on-line than ever earlier than,” the CAFC 2021 report reads.

Social Catfish broke down information from the CAFC to showcase a mean monetary loss throughout Canada.

Social Catfish used information from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre annual report to point out probably the most and least scammed locations in Canada. (Knowledge from Social Catfish and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre/ Natasha O’Neill) Heightened dangers of scams may be attributed, the CAFC report says, to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to extra time spent within the digital environments the place Canadians store, talk and work.

In accordance with CAFC, younger and aged Canadians are probably the most susceptible to on-line scams and are being focused by fraudsters.

“Whereas these teams are extensively adopting the advantages of the digital world, they could not essentially have as robust an understanding of the menace atmosphere,” the report reads. “The present pattern underscores the necessity for additional schooling and consciousness surrounding cyber literacy and hygiene.”


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