If you’ve received a work-at-home offer in your Inbox that seems too good to be true, you might be a target of an elaborate scam. If you look for that special someone on dating networks, keep your eyes wide open for romance scams that could drag you into a bunch of illegal activities without your knowledge.
Seven individuals, one from Nigeria and six from the United States, have been sentenced to five years in prison for online frauds such as counterfeit checks, mystery shopper websites and work-from-home fake jobs.
The sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. of the Southern District of Mississippi who convicted two of the criminals for “conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft of government property and one count of use of mail and an interstate facility to distribute proceeds of a racketeering activity,” informed the US Department of Justice.
The group is part of a much larger international fraud cartel that has been using dating websites to launch romance scams, and has committed check fraud, mystery shopper scams and work-from-home shams. Surprisingly, some of the convicted were victims themselves, initially, but were caught up in the game eventually.
Tricked into thinking they had legal jobs, the victims would use fake checks for money laundering. The checks “would bounce after the victims transmitted proceeds to various locations in the United States which were then laundered for transmission to Nigeria,” reads the US Department of Justice website. “Victims were then liable to their banks for the amount of checks and often hundreds of dollars in bank fees.”