The Romance Scam: The Love Song That Never Was



Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Content Manager

Jennifer Lopez once sang that her “love don’t cost a thing.” I can’t remember if this was before or after Ben Affleck bought her a Rolls Royce. Don’t worry, it worked out evenly. She bought him a Bentley.

But, alas, not every romance works out as merrily as Bennifer did. (They almost made it to the chapel.) For some, love really is blind, especially when it happens over the internet.

To remember how much of a battlefield love can be, here are some of the latest news stories about people who give love a bad name:

BBC Promotes Valentine’s Day Awareness Campaign
[Jenny] started communicating online with a "very caring, considerate" man who said he was an IT consultant. "Very early on in the communication he was telling me how much he loved me, how he wanted to be with me, I suppose I got to the point where I believed everything he said," she said. Read the full story.

Secrets: When White-Collar Crime Goes Dirty
In two unrelated but sadly similar cases, Harvey and Larry carried on secret, sexually aberrant lives that were decidedly at variance with their known, socially respectable lives. Unfortunately, Harvey and Larry encountered extortionists who exploited their secrets, which cost each man thousands of dollars and one his life. Read the full story.

‘Prince Charming’ Behind Bars in Romance Scam Case
Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 33, of Nigeria was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for an international criminal enterprise he ran from 2007 to 2014. Sunmola and his associates targeted hundreds of women across the United States, developing intense online relationships and promising them true love. Instead, Sunmola bilked them for millions of dollars. Read the full story.

As a fraud examiner, you may not wear your trust on your sleeve as many of the victims who fall prey to internet barracudas do. You know to ask questions, be cautious and remain curious. Let’s use these stories to help spread the word that love doesn’t have to cost a thing; it can actually be an endless love that will take your breath away.

How many love song references did you spot? Let me know in the comments. Happy Valentine’s Day from the ACFE!