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The scammer often pretends to be a young woman in an isolated or desolate region of Russia who is desperate for a new life, and the email from the girl’s supposed mother is intended to add legitimacy to the scheme.
Then there are dozens of pre-fabricated excuses for not talking on the phone, an activity reserved for the final stretch of the scam when the fraudster typically pretends to be stranded at the airport or somewhere else en route to the target’s home town.
Once they have their victim hooked, they ask for money.
“When you get down to the final stage, there has to be a crisis, some compelling reason why the target should you send the money,” said Holden, founder of Hold Security [full disclosure: Yours Truly is an uncompensated adviser to Holden’s company].Many of the sample emails read a bit like Mad Libs or choose-your-own-adventure texts, featuring decision templates that include advice for ultimately tricking the mark into wiring money to the scammer.The romance scam package is designed for fraudsters who prey on lonely men via dating Web sites and small spam campaigns.The call center pictured above charges per call, payable only in Bitcoin.“If you imagine the cost of doing by phone every part of the scam, it’s rather high, so they do most of the scam via email,” Holden said.