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Like many single women, the Midwestern mother of two and caretaker for her ailing father found many possibilities and opportunities when it came to meeting men online. Messenger from October 2006 through February 2007, Walter, a self-described white-collar engineer and college sports enthusiast, ended up taking the spellbound Meade for the ride of her life.
“We were going to get married,” she recalls, fighting back tears.
Today, the scam has moved to messaging and social media, where the new operation involves fake photos and false identities.
The accounts sometimes use the same name as the person from whom they've harvested images.
But for some reason, I've lately become a magnet for an entirely different sort of scammer—a kind that uses social media platforms to run large-scale wire-fraud scams and other confidence games.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Twitter has become their favorite platform for luring in suckers.
Recently, Twitter's security team has been tracking a large amount of fraudulent activity coming out of Africa, including "romance schemes"—wherein the fraudster uses an emotional appeal of friendship or promised romance to lure a victim into a scam.
Thousands of accounts involved in the ongoing campaign have been suspended.
Other times, they use some variant of it to throw off people who might do some surface-level investigating, making it look like they've just set up a secondary account.