Carla was scrolling through Instagram one day during the lockdown when a handsome man named Luke appeared as a suggested person to follow.
out of curiosity, she clicked on his profile and he quickly gave her permission. Luke texted her almost immediately and their friendship began and quickly blossomed.
“The first thing I noticed was how attractive he was. His photos were all very normal and realistic, I had no suspicion. Him at home, with his cat, showing off his tattoos. He told me he was born in Poland but adopted when he was a baby in UK and lived in Glasgow. He told me he was an engineer, ”says Carla (not her real name), a Polish woman in her thirties who lives in Dublin. “We immediately had in common that we were both Polish. He was very charming, he said he wanted to find a girlfriend, preferably Polish, and eventually move to Poland and start a family.
Their communication quickly left Instagram after he suggested they chat on Hangouts, a free messaging application. “We would send messages all day, every day. It was like a real relationship and it lasted a few months. I had just come out of a long term relationship and he was actually the first man I opened up to again.
Luke spoke of wanting to come visit Carla in Dublin and invited her to visit him in Glasgow. But due to Covid and the lockdowns, neither could travel. Instead, they maintained daily contact until one day Luke did something that caused Carla to stop and take stock. He asked her for money.
“He told me he had a problem at work, that he had lost money for his business and had to pay it back. I said he couldn’t ask his family or friends or get a loan. He said, “I was hoping you could help me”. I said no, that I had never met him, I couldn’t just give him money. At that point, I knew something was wrong. He said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, forget about it”.
But Carla couldn’t forget it. She told a friend of hers, who decided to share some of Luke’s photos through Google Lens, a photo app. Carla’s suspicions were confirmed. The man she believed to be Luke was actually a Danish model and this fraudster had stolen her photos from the internet.
“I was disappointed, it was a shock. He was the first man I had really spoken to since my long term relationship ended and I was in therapy to deal with all of this, which I had told him all about too, and he was so kind to it. topic. I stopped talking to him right away when I found out.
Carla decided it was the National Bureau of Economic Crime Guard (GNECB). After hearing her story, detectives recounted here that she was the victim of an attempted romance scam. They asked him to reconnect with Luke and, acting on their instructions, she asked him a series of questions in order to extract his bank details so that investigators could attempt to incapacitate him.
“So I started talking to him again. I told him that I knew the truth, that he was not who he claimed to be. He admitted he was from Africa and said he was very poor, without even enough money to feed himself. I said I would always help him if he gave me the bank details. I have two bank accounts details of him that I passed on to custody. I then blocked it. I also reported it to Instagram.
What happened to Carla is not uncommon. According to GNECB Detective Inspector Mel Smyth, the men – and women – behind the romance scams are using sophisticated manipulations and well-honed scripts to convince people to part with their money.
“Fortunately for this woman, she did not hand over any money and came to gardaí instead. But there are many men and women in this country who have parted with tens of thousands of euros and even more before realizing that they are the victims of a scam, ”said the inspector- Detective Smyth, who works in serious economic crime and law enforcement. corruption, among others.
The GNECB forwarded the bank accounts provided by the fraudster to Interpol. They contacted the police in European and African countries where accounts have been opened, in order to initiate the closing of accounts and fraud investigations.
“This woman was lucky, many others weren’t,” Detective Inspector Smyth said. These scammers use social engineering on social media to manipulate people. They often look at the information you post on social media and then create their own profile so it looks like you have a lot of common interests with them.
“People need to remember that what you put on social media has to be limited to protect you. They can spend months cultivating a relationship with someone online before telling a bloody story and asking for money. Everyone should stop and ask themselves the question. If you met someone on the street and they asked you for € 10,000, would you say no? So why would you give it to someone online? “