Internet Dating Scams
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Basic Information

The traditional romance fraud has now moved into internet dating sites. The con man actively cultivates a romantic relationship which often involves promises of marriage. However, after some time it becomes evident that this Internet "sweetheart" is stuck in his home country, lacking the money to leave the country and thus unable to be united with the mark. The scam then becomes an Advance fee fraud or a check fraud. A wide variety of reasons can be offered for the trickster's lack of cash, but rather than just borrow the money from the victim (Advance Fee fraud), the con man normally declares that they have checks which the victim can cash on their behalf and remit the money via a non-reversible transfer service to help facilitate the trip (check fraud). Of course, the checks are forged or stolen and the con man never makes the trip: the hapless victim ends up with a large debt and an aching heart.


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Game and Story Use

  • As technology improves, scam artists adapt. Any of the other cons listed on this site can be updated to the tech of the setting/era.
    • In a sci-fi setting, the romance might be conducted over virtual reality or subspace transmission, with a lover that is literally worlds away.
      • If the setting lacks FTL or warp drive, it may be years to travel from one world to another. The con artist might convince their mark that to enter voluntary suspended animation until they "arrive" on the planet few decades later. Meanwhile, the con man, who is actually on the same planet already, raids the bank accounts and property of the frozen lover.
    • In a fantasy setting, a council of wizards might commune via powerful magic from different continents, rarely or never meeting in person. Lesser spellcasters who just learned such communication magic, might be vulnerable to crafty older wizards manipulating them from afar.
  • Slightly less high tech would be an arranged marriage fraud in which a prospective spouse's family are required to advance part of a dowry or bride price for a prestigious foreign spouse, perhaps in a proxy marriage, only to find the other spouse doesn't exist, is already married, absconds or is "not as described". Henry VIII of England was tricked into marrying his 'Flanders Mare' by proxy on the basis of an extremely fanciful portrait.
    • One of the legends of Rabbi Judah Loew shows him interceding on behalf of a young man married by proxy to a non-existant foreign bride whose 'family' actually want to sacrifice him in a black magic ritual that would turn his head into an oracle… he probably would have been better off with a dodgy internet bride.
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