Authorities in Phuket Thailand have arrested two Nigerian men for suspected involvement in a so-called romance scam. Phuket police said the two Nigerians were identified as Nkemakolam Benson Ugonna, 21, and Osuchukwu Chukwuemeka Malachy, 19.
The arrests came after Phuket police were asked by the Songkhla immigration police to track down suspects over a romance scam. They Nigerians posted profiles of good-looking western men on Facebook to strike up conversations with Thai women in search of foreign partners. They deceived them into believing they really existed and won their trust. After a while, they exchanged names and addresses.
At this point, the Nigerian romance scammers would tell the women they had some valuable items for them and they would send the items. They then tricked the Thai women into transferring money to them.
The police investigated and followed the two Nigerian romance scammers to the Patong area of Phuket. Security camera footage showed the two had frequently withdrawn money from ATM machines.
A subsequent check revealed that the two Nigerians had also overstayed their visas. Also they might have been involved in the romance scam. Thus leading to their arrests at a hotel in Patong, Phuket.
They were charged with overstaying their visas and suspected involvement in a romance scam.
How to avoid Nigerian romance scammers
Dating websites and apps can be useful tools for meeting someone new. It’s wise, though, to be careful when communicating with potential romantic interests. Here are some things which may help you avoid being scammed:
Don’t share personal details
If you share personal information like your full name, date of birth and home address with a stranger, you may not know what they’ll do with it. Try not to share personal details online with people whom you already know, either – you may end up sending it to a fraudster pretending to be them. You should also be careful when picking your user name on dating websites – don’t include personal information like your location (for example, ‘JaneFromLondon’).
Don’t send or receive money
Do not send or receive money from anyone you’ve met online, no matter how convincing their story is. This applies to cash as well as your bank account, credit card or other financial details. If the request is coming from someone you think you know, check with them offline to ensure that it’s really them.
Use trusted dating websites
Fraudsters tend to want to take their criminal activity off reputable dating websites as soon as possible. They’re likely to try to convince you to interact with them via social media or text messaging. This is so that the dating website has no proof of them asking you for money. If you’re in touch with someone on this type of website, communicate with them through the site’s messaging services.
Don’t share personal contact details
Use a website that will allow you to keep your personal details private until you’re ready to share them. These include your contact details, such as your phone number or email or home address.
Think twice before using your webcam
Be careful when using your webcam with a new online love interest, even if it’s someone whom you think you know. The footage could be used against you. This applies to cameras on all devices, from computers and laptops to smartphones and tablets.
Trust your instincts
If you feel like something is wrong, it may be. Be careful.
How to report a romance scam
You can report fake dating profiles to the websites that they’re posted on. This will help the sites to close down any fraudulent accounts.
f you fall victim to a scam you should try to contact the local Tourist Police, or call their toll-free number by dialing 1155. They have experience dealing with tourist scams and can inform you of the proper way to proceed. If you wish to file a police report, they can assist in contacting the regular Thai Police force.