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A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud.
Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
The scammers also like to entice victims to perform sexual acts on webcam.
They tell their victims that they are lonely, supporting an orphanage with their own money, needing financial assistance because they can't access their own money in a combat zone, etc.
The scammer will provide an excuse such as not being able to get an exit visa, or illness of themselves or a family member.
Scammers are very adept at knowing how to "play" their victims - sending love poems, sex games in emails, building up a "loving relationship" with many promises of "one day we will be married".
Everything is pre-arranged so that the wealthy foreigner pays high amounts of money for accommodation, is taken not to an ordinary public café but to the most costly restaurant (usually some out-of-the-way place priced far above what locals would ever be willing to pay), and is manipulated into making various expensive purchases, including gifts such as electronics and fur coats. The victim leaves just as alone but poorer at the end of the trip.
The merchandise is returned to the vendors, the pro-dater and the various accomplices take in their respective cut of the take.
A rapidly growing technique scammers are using is to impersonate American military personnel.