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Many of the sample emails read a bit like Mad Libs or choose-your-own-adventure texts, featuring decision templates that include advice for ultimately tricking the mark into wiring money to the scammer.
The romance scam package is designed for fraudsters who prey on lonely men via dating Web sites and small spam campaigns.
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In addition, the package bundles several photos and videos of attractive Russian women, some of whom are holding up blank signs onto which the scammer can later Photoshop whatever message he wants.
Recently, I had a chance to review a package of dating scam emails, instructions, pictures, videos and love letter templates that are sold to scammers in the underground, and was struck by how commoditized this type of fraud has become.
The dating scam package is assembled for and marketed to Russian-speaking hackers, with hundreds of email templates written in English and a variety of European languages.
“Working with dozens of possible outcomes, they carefully lay out every possible response, including dealing with broke guys who fell in love online,” said Alex Holden, the security expert who intercepted the romance scam package.
“If the mark doesn’t have money, the package contains advice for getting him credit, telling the customer to restate his love and discuss credit options.” Interestingly, although Russia is considered by many to be among the most hostile countries toward homosexuals, the makers of this dating scam package also include advice and templates for targeting gay men.