” He repeats: “Do not pick an interpreter you are attracted to!
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Holden said that an enterprising fraudster with the right programming skills or the funds to hire a coder could easily automate the scam using bots that are programmed to respond to emails from the targets with content-specific replies.
The romance scam package urges customers to send at least a dozen emails to establish a rapport and relationship before even mentioning the subject of traveling to meet the target.
“Working with dozens of possible outcomes, they carefully lay out every possible response, including dealing with broke guys who fell in love online,” said Alex Holden, the security expert who intercepted the romance scam package.
“If the mark doesn’t have money, the package contains advice for getting him credit, telling the customer to restate his love and discuss credit options.” Interestingly, although Russia is considered by many to be among the most hostile countries toward homosexuals, the makers of this dating scam package also include advice and templates for targeting gay men.
It is in this critical, final part of the scam that the fraudster is encouraged to take advantage of criminal call centers that staff women who can be hired to play the part of the damsel in distress.
“When you get down to the final stage, there has to be a crisis, some compelling reason why the target should you send the money,” said Holden, founder of Hold Security [full disclosure: Yours Truly is an uncompensated adviser to Holden’s company].
Bragg, who is not a small man and looks like a Hells Angel with his sunglasses and goatee, is gesticulating wildly, and his voice sounds like a timpani.
Downstairs, in the hotel’s basement banquet hall, are seventy Ukrainian women all dolled up and dying to be met. “Big night.” A few of the men check their flies; another asks his neighbor if there’s anything in his teeth. “Now, say Svetlana wants to dance and you say, ‘Svetlana, I’ll dance with you.
The scammer often pretends to be a young woman in an isolated or desolate region of Russia who is desperate for a new life, and the email from the girl’s supposed mother is intended to add legitimacy to the scheme.
Then there are dozens of pre-fabricated excuses for not talking on the phone, an activity reserved for the final stretch of the scam when the fraudster typically pretends to be stranded at the airport or somewhere else en route to the target’s home town.
The call center pictured above charges per call, payable only in Bitcoin.