Friday, May 12, 2006
7 News Investigations: Date With Deceit
The song goes looking for love in all the wrong places. But some members of internet dating sites are finding that the wrong love is actually stalking them. And you won't believe who is behind the scam. Patrick Fraser reports instead of finding love people are finding a Date With Deceit.
WSVN--They vow to "jump start your love life", that you can meet someone "real."
Promises that lure 60 million people a month to internet dating sites. Franco signed on.
Franco Musumeci: "Everybody's using it, to have access to singles to date. For dating."
Franco searched and searched for the perfect woman... and then one day she found him.
Franco Musumeci: "I received a flirt. Flirt on the line. It says hi, my name is Mary."
The message came from Mary Guffey. A dark beauty that captured Franco's eye.
Franco Musumeci: "I questioned her, is that you? Cause if it's really you you are a good looking woman."
Over the next few months they emailed constantly. Franco was falling in love.
Franco Musumeci: "Four months and she send me Christmas cards, Valentines cards and all."
To Franco the next stop was obvious.
Franco Musumeci: "I raised the question, would you be interested in meeting me? We've been communicating for a long time. She said yes."
Franco Musumeci: "I'm tired of being alone."
Gaybrilla was also looking for love -- she subscribed to several legitimate internet dating sites... and then one day the man of her dreams came online.
Gaybrilla Debord: "He just said all the things you want to hear. Such a romancer. He was really really good."
Gaybrilla says the love of her life was Kelvin -- very handsome and incredibly charming.
Gaybrilla Debord: "I had sent pictures of him to all my friends and said this is my next boyfriend."
Gaybrilla was certain where they were headed.
Gaybrilla Debord: "I thought we were going to get married. Travel the world together."
Both Gaybrilla and Franco soon found out their future spouses were living overseas.
Gaybrilla Debord: "He was in Europe at the time. The UK."
Franco Musumeci: "She lived by herself in Halifax England."
After months of talking Mary made her move, saying she desperately wanted to come to South Florida to meet her Franco.
Franco Musumeci: "I want to be with you, please. I keep thinking about you every day. I miss you so much."
Mary just needed franco to cash a check that she would send him which would cover the cost of her flight.
Franco Musumeci: "The check was for $1,750."
Franco was suspicious but he knew his Mary would never rip him off. He waited for her check to clear, and when it did...
Franco Musumeci: "I went to the Western Union and wire transferred the money."
Three days later the check bounced.
Franco Musumeci: "My account was overdrawn by 12-hundred dollars."
Gaybrilla's internet lover tried the same check scam.
Gaybrilla Debord: "His paycheck he couldn't cash. He needed me to help him."
When she hesitated he used guilt.
Gaybrilla Debord: "He would act like, I am going to be your husband. You should help me."
By then Gaybrilla knew something was wrong. She ended the relationship. The man of her dreams slipped away.
Similar stories, similar endings -- because it's the same scam.
Barbara Sluppick: "In these scams, people don't even have any idea that they are being scammed."
Barbara Sluppick runs an online forum designed to "out" the scammers.
She says the beautiful women that men fall for are far from it.
Barbara Sluppick: "It's really hard for a man to think that this gorgeous woman that he's actually fallen in love with is really some guy."
The handsome picture is often a model lifted from a modeling agency. And those flowery love letters are crafted to con you.
Barbara Sluppick: "They listen to everything that the victim says and they build on that dream."
The scammers are called "Yahoo Boys." But this is no child's game. It's a well organized gang raking in the money.
Barbara Sluppick: "They are getting 15 billion dollars a year from this."
Patrick Fraser: "That's 15-billion, with a "b". That's staggering. But what's frightening is where the money is headed. Experts believe many of those internet scammers are part of organized terrorists groups working out of Nigeria. Raising money to fund terrorists acts. And if you try to expose them... Watch out."
When the authors of this book began to investigate the dating scammers their computers came under cyber attack -- they learned Osama Bin Laden doesn't like to have his source of money touched.
Jonathan van Helsing: "Osama's no dummy. He can't finance this stuff on his own. The Saudi's can't finance it forever. They've invested a lot in Nigeria."
The FBI told Seven News they are aware that a percentage of on line scam proceeds are associated with terrorist efforts.
Gaybrilla found out the hard way.
Gaybrilla Debord: "One of the scammers is talking to me right now."
Now when Gaybrilla finds a scammer on a legitimate dating site she posts their identity on Yahoo's romance scam group to help others avoid getting ripped off.
Gaybrilla Debord: "The emotional devastation is just unreal."
The internet dating scammers are bold, deceitful -- and, by helping fund terrorism -- deadly.
If you're concerned about someone you met on line you can find a link to the anti-scam websites by going to wsvn.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Anti Scam Book: Cyber Love's Illusion
Authors: Anna Alden-Tirril & Jonathan van Helsing
Scam info Websites: