Ever tried to help someone being scammed?

One of my wife’s distant relatives said she has an online boyfriend in the Philippines who she needs to WU money to because he tried to send her his mom’s jewelry and he was arrested and put in prison and now needs bail money.

I said have you ever spoken to him in a live audio? NOPE, ever had a two way video connection, NOPE.

I was like I am not trying to insult you but this is a classic romance scam, classic. I told her terms to google if she did not believe me, so she could confirm it herself. I mean me and my wife met online, internationally even so it isn’t like I’m prejudiced against online relationships. But I told her this is a classic scam, the fact you have only ever communicated with him via text and he was going to mail his mom’s jewelry to you and now you’re going to WU him cash is called a RED FUCKING FLAG:smack::rolleyes:

She told me I am wrong, wrong, wrong and he LUUURVES her. My wife laughed and told me let her learn on her own.:smack:

EDIT:I even told her me and my wife neither of us asked nor offered to send each other cash or expensive items in our early relationship, we mailed each other gifts of nominal value and my wife sent me some exotic snacks and food items she wanted me to try(well exotic to me). I was like your whole story is not normal, please don’t let yourself get scammed.

We had once a long thread by a doper who tried to prevent her neighbour from going bankrupt over a Nigerian-style scam. She reported regularly on the evolution of the situation. Needless to say, she failed to convince him, and he had to learn his lesson the hard way.

Can your wife contact someone in her family who is closer to this relative and can talk some sense into her?

It’s one thing to learn a lesson, but I absolutely HATE the thought that the scammer will profit.

Former Western Union person here. I tried numerous times to keep people from being scammed. Each and every one ignored what I said as well as what they read in the Western Union notices I provided them. At first I’d go ahead and send the money just to get rid of the person; then I’d immediately call WU to flag the transaction as possibly fraudulent. Sometimes WU caught the scammer; sometimes I was interrupted before I could make the call. So I just refused suspicious transactions.

One man went to a different WU office, sent the money off, and later called me to see if I could get his money back [from his true love in Moscow] before his wife got suspicious.

“So, sir, you got an e-mail from Russia from a young woman wanting to rent your house in Nowhereville, USA, but she’s having trouble coming up with the airfare so could you just help her out?”


“Here’s your sign.”

A friend called me in a panic. His son-in-law called him from the Dominican Republic or somewhere, had been arrested, and needed money for bail or court costs or something. Oh, and my friend was told not to call his daughter. The son-in-law was embarrassed, and didn’t want her to know.

He wired the money, then got another phone call. The bail had gone up. He needed a thousand more, or something. My friend only had a couple hundred in cash left, and asked me to help.

I asked if he had spoken to his son-in-law, and was he sure that’s who was calling. He said yes. I told him it was a common scam, and he should call his daughter, but he said he wasn’t supposed to. He came over, and I gave him the money, warning him it probably wasnt his son-in-law. He said it was an emergency, and had to help.

About twenty minutes later, he was back with the money. I had made him think enough that he called his daughter, who told him her husband was sitting right next to her. He then called the police who tried to help, but the first money he sent was gone. The phone calls kept coming for an hour or two until he told them he had called he police, then they stopped.

He told me later that the first phone call just asked for Grandpa, but that his son-in-law had called him Grandpa since the grandchild was born. My friend gave too much information away in responding, and made it easy for the callers to figure out they needed to be the son-in-law and not he grandson.

My friend is a PhD and highly intelligent, but he is getting older and from what I’ve read, gullibility increases with age. I’m sure I will fall for something in my 70s, but I hope not.

Sorry, my dog had some urgent pee-mail to send.

Disclaimer: this is based on WU procedure from a few years back.

IF your relative is sending money from an actual WU terminal with a real live operator, then she’ll have a receipt with the recipient’s name, city, country and a control number. If you can get your hands on one, possibly you can call WU with the information and they can track the scammer. But to prosecute them, WU needs to catch the person in the act of picking up the money. That’s the tricky part because it takes only 15 or so minutes for the money to be available at the destination point.

Is it possible for someone to take her to the WU terminal and call the same office and tell them the transaction is likely fraudulent but the sender won’t listen to reason?

As I said, I never convinced anybody to change their mind. One elderly gentleman was truly heartbroken when he learned of the scam. Didn’t matter that I was saving his retirement for him. “She” was just such a sweet thing.

I’ve seen it surmised that it’s not really due to age, just having grown up in an era where they hadn’t learned to spot these types of scams like we have. Sure, such scammers existed, but the average person didn’t encounter them or hear about anyone who had encountered them. And even when they did, the slow nature of communication made it impossible for them to pretend to be you friend and all these other tactics.

It’s like the idea that you become more Conservative as you age. No you don’t. You just get to a point where your views don’t really change, but the world still does.

It’s also surmised that the constant need to keep up with things in the modern world is actually helping to us avoid both problems in the future. We can’t mentally tune out the world around us.

I sure hope this is true, because the idea that my brain would atrophy and I would become stupider over time, or the idea that I would ever go back on, say, homosexuality or abortion or just general tolerance–that would just be terrifying.

Regardless of their innate intelligence to do whatever they do to get by people who fall for these scams have little to no common sense and will often actively fight you if you try to correct them. Some will even hold a grudge after the fact if you expose the scam and save them money.

Why did you give him the money?

That was choie, in this thread from December 2008.