Philippines has been listed in the past few years as a high risk country when it comes to internet fraud, including dating scams. A reliable Philippines detective can tell you that the number of fraud cases is very high compared to most countries. Although this scheme is nothing new and many are aware of the risk, the number of victims continues to climb. The fact is, that most victims don't realized how important it is to be well informed about their romantic partner and to perform dating background checks that can help avoid serious financial losses and heartache. Investigators say there is no foreseeable future of this crime coming to an end. Several reasons support this.
The first reason is that new technologies are constantly emerging and making things easier for all of us, but this also means that scammers get it easier too. The Philippines is a country that stands out for having a tech-savvy population. More than 33 million Filipinos, mainly in the big cities like Manila, are very poor, speak English, and have access to the internet and there is an exponential rise on mobile usage as well. With technology and internet penetration comes increasing risk. Con artists have easy access to devices and many tools available on the web to hide their real locations, to steal information from their victims’ computers, to forge documentation and to develop very complex plots that make it harder for you to figure out who is real and who is not.
The second reason is that as our society evolves, we are getting more familiar with being connected online. In developed countries like the United States, Australia or the United Kingdom, people are used to, and more importantly, are very comfortable with having an active online life. What this implies is that we not always know the boundaries, and we say too much about our lives on the web. Nearly all victims have a false sense of security and don't understand how they can be a victim until it is too late. Many victims say, "the subject never asked me for money", and don't understand how they lost money and/or had their identity stolen. Investigators and privacy experts agree the more you share online the greater at risk you are for fraud and scams.
The fact is that online scamming isn´t about anonymous spam emails anymore. Internet criminals are learning faster than the media and law enforcement can warn about the new risks.
Many Filipina scams involve a scammer who wants to get married to a "wealthy" foreigner in order to get a visa and to attain a higher standard of living. She wants to leave the country no matter what, with whoever she can. In the meantime, she is willing to lie, scam and cheat to increase her income and support her family. In most cases, the families are actively involved and even husbands pretend to be cousins when a foreigner and scam victims comes to visit.
Although the Philippines is not the only country which is an active participant in this phenomenon, it continues to receive a large number of the reports of online dating scams. The discussion on the cultural and economic background of this situation is long and complicated. The impact of romance scams is clear. Private investigators in the Philippines say there are many clean cases and that there are many good people in the Philippines. With the high risk, however, it pays to be safe and skeptical, and verify any new contacts in the country, especially those met online.
© 2013 S. Birch