The FBI has issued a warning on the growing sophistication of criminals creating false online personas to launch confidence schemes, commit romance fraud, and recruit "money mules," or individuals tasked with carrying illegal sums or criminal money across borders or launder money through bank accounts they open on behalf of others.
According to the FBI, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) saw reports of confidence/romance fraud grow from 15,000 to 18,000 from 2017 through 2018, while the amount of money lost to the criminals increased more than 70%, from roughly $211 million to more than $362 million.
In the warning, the FBI includes a list of best practices and warning signs. The best practices include performing reverse image searches on photos used in online profiles and heeding senses that things could be "not right," while the warning signs include hearing claims that the meeting was "destiny" or "fate," and receiving vague answers to specific questions.
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