If you're wondering how internet romance scams started, I have a little experience with this. I divorced in 1996 and the internet was just starting to roll about that time. I used Compuserve as my dial up connection and belonged to chat rooms there. Later they became AOL and chat rooms and email and their chat client became popular. Dating chat rooms soon evolved into dating websites. For the first 4 or 5 years I was single and getting more active on the net, I never heard of an international internet scammer in the romance world. But I did start to notice scams related to sales, marketing and especially porn and software pirating.
I worked back then for a university computer support center and saw students both getting involved with being scammed and computer science and technology students finding clever ways to perpetrate scams. And about that time, because I was trained to follow IP addresses to track down problems affecting the university and its students, I started noticing IP addresses leading to overseas connections. But it wasn't until about 2005, when I starte giving the then fledgling online matchmaking/dating sites a try, that I started noticing IP addresses leading to Africa. I didn't notice the Russians but then even still today, the Russians mostly scam men and I am female.
At that time I was already familiar with the African 419 scams like trunk box scams and advance fee frauds, so when I started getting hit on by white guys saying they were in New York or California with their IP addresses pointing to Lagos, Nigeria, I knew there were new snakes in the grass. It's my opinion that once the Internet came to Africa, the Nigerians starting the romance scam ball rolling.
Their nefarious craft has evolved over the years and spread to other nations, but still the Nigerians have to be the love scam-masters of all time, IMO. I think they learned from the Russians and filled a niche (scamming women) that I think even the Russian scammers find too low and undignified to participate in. I've not been to Africa (yet) but I've been inside their gangs and known several independents as up close and personal as the internet and online contact will allow. To most of them, they see themselves as oppressed and victimized so they say they scam for righteous compensation, though there are a few who will admit to a lust for power, control and money. I think those are the more honest ones.
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