The Romance scam was first brought to the attention of the public when Netflix aired a true crime documentary about a fake romantic relationship. The Tinder Swindler scam works by gaining the trust of the victim in a fake romantic relationship.
Once the victim is convinced the relationship is stable, the perpetrator begins to ask for money with the promise of paying it back, which he never does.
As part of operation “ROMANTICS”, the Guardia Civil have arrested two people accused of scamming €57,000, using a type of cybercrime known as the Romance Scam, or the love scam.
The operation began after receiving a complaint from a woman who believed she could be the victim of this scam. As a result, the agents of the Equipo@ of the Alicante Guardia Civil opened an investigation to clarify the facts.
The complainant told the agents that a little over a year ago she met a man through a well-known dating application. Then, after a few days of continual contact through the App, they exchanged telephone numbers to chat in a more direct way.
After some time, the victim was convinced they had a real sentimental relationship together. Consequently, he proposed to meet up in person. However, he always made excuses about work and personal problems and at the last moment he invented some excuse to avoid date.
Gaining the victim´s trust
However, to gain the victim’s trust, the scammer told the victim that he belonged to the State Security Forces and Corps, that he came from a wealthy family, that they owned a developer and construction company in Elche, and that he was investing in a luxury home in a residential area of Elche with a view to moving there.
Likewise, he told her his family history: that he had a teenage son with problems; that he also took care of his sick mother (going so far as to lie about her death); and that he was trying to build the family business, which one of the partners had ruined.
However, still, despite various attempts to meet in person, the scammer always found some excuse.
Although, according to police reports, it should be noted that the scammer came to meet her, pretending to be a relative of his. During this meeting, he told the victim all the problems he had with his son, his mother, and the family business, which added credibility to all the fantasies he had described during their long-distance conversations.
Then, at one point, posing as his teenage son, the scammer contacted her via mobile messaging and asked for financial help for his father. The victim was convinced that they were a couple, and in the near future were going to start a family. Therefore, when she thought he really needed this help, she began to lend him money.
Sometimes, he pretended he was going to sell some property and that he could repay the accumulated debt, but a new problem always appeared.
After an exhaustive study of all the evidence collected, the police were able to verify that the fictitious relationship lasted 14 months. They had exchanged an average of 350 messages a day. And, furthermore, the victim had made money transfers, over 8 months for a total of €57,000.
Likewise, the police were able to verify that, once the victim deposited the money, the scammer immediately laundered it without leaving a trace.
Romance scam arrests
Consequently, the home of the alleged perpetrators in the town of Guardamar del Segura was entered and searched. This led to the arrest of a 39-year-old man (the main scammer), and a 39-year-old woman, his sentimental partner, with whom he lives. His partner was aware of the facts, and, in turn, profited from the benefits obtained from criminal activity.
As part of the investigation, the electronic devices used by the scammers to commit the crime have been intervened and will be carefully analysed. The intervention of the bank accounts of which the detainees are holders has also been requested.
The operation has been carried out by the @ Team of the Civil Guard with the support of the Citizen Security Unit (USECIC) of the Civil Guard of Alicante and directed by the Court of Denia.