Fake beauties rush net lover

  • Monday, October 01, 2007 - KATE KYRIACOU reports
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The created image of Geoff Carr ... and two of the women he attracted offering romance and money.
 The created image of Geoff Carr ... and two of the women he attracted offering romance and money.
 
FAKE beauties, including a Nigerian woman with millions to share, have rushed an internet "sting" set-up to test online dating services.

THEIR stories are always the same - a tragic young girl, usually Nigerian, forced to live in terrible conditions until she is able to access the millions her father left her.

SHE will contact you through a dating site asking for help to transfer the money into an offshore account for your new life together.

USING a composite photo made from images of staff members, the Sunday Mail set up a profile of Geoff Carr , an eligible, handsome South Australianon, and put him a popular dating website to see what response we would get.

And it doesn't matter that he is not a real man – because neither are many of the women who contacted him during his first week on a popular dating website.

It took just one day for several internet scammers to contact "Geoff" – all with the prerequisite tale of woe and a "situation" involving inaccessible funds.

They are the new breed of "419" scammers – Nigerian criminals who promise huge sums of money if they can use your bank account to move millions of dollars.

What was once a spam email from a "lawyer" looking for a bank account to deposit riches left behind by a dead tycoon with no living relatives has now taken a more clever and romantic turn.

Today, the scammer is a young "woman" who is looking for love and just happens to have millions of dollars to share.

But she will need you to pay supposed legal fees to transfer the non-existent money, as well as a costly visa, passport and plane ticket to Australia.

She will insist on the cash being deposited into an untraceable Western Union account.

It was this formula that saw an Adelaide man kidnapped and held hostage in Nigeria by an armed gang who had spent the best part of a year conning him into thinking he would fly home with a new bride.

The Sunday Mail created a fictitious character who claimed to be a 40-year-old Adelaide businessman who was taking time out to enjoy the good life.

"Benice" contacted Geoff immediately, claiming to be a 25-year-old Nigerian woman with a lot of love to give – if only you could help her access the $5.7 million euros ($A9.15 million) her father had left her before her parents were both killed in a tragic plane crash.

"The reason why I contacted you to assist me in transferring the fund to your country while you will help me to locate and be with me and my sister and further our education and also me to invest the fund in business that will profit us," she says. "I shall be willing to settle down with you, if you will be loving and caring to me.

"I want you to keep this matter between us to avoid jealous from people so that my late father family we not hear it.

"Hope to hear from you soon and bye with warm kissssssssss."

When Geoff questioned his new love about any possible transfer fees, she replied "please don't attempt to put my effort in vain as I am a lonely heart who has face a lot of pains in this last few months".

Another woman, who called herself Sandar Mbaye, contacted Geoff within a day of his profile being activated.

The 23-year-old from West Africa's Ivory Coast explained that she fled to a refugee camp after her parents were killed by rebels.

"Please listen to this, I have my late father's statement of account and death certificate here with me which I will send to you later because when he was alive he deposited some amount of money in a leading bank in United kingdom which he used my name as the next of kin," she wrote.

"The amount in question is $3.5m. So what I need from you is for you to see that the money is transferred to a good account and also to make arrangement on how I will come over and stay with you."

A third woman, Silvia Utazi, lived happily with her mother and father – the managing director of Cocoa Industries in Rwanda – until rebels attacked and killed her parents.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said dozens of people had contacted his organisation in the past year to complain of Nigerian "romance scams".

"Of those, around half complained of losing money in amounts of up to $50,000," he said. "The thing that surprises me the most with Nigerian scam victims is that we get complaints from people who have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"How can someone who is smart enough to earn that much money be so willing to let it go?

"As a rule, people should never part with their money unless they know who it is going to.

"Don't give away your bank details and don't give away your credit card details."

Mr Samuel said it was almost impossible to recover the money once it was gone.

"The primary thing we can do is warn people," he said.

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