Turn to Tara: Romance scams reach record high; new insights from former scammer

New data uncovered by News 12’s Turn to Tara investigative team might cause you to think twice before dating online.
In a stark revelation, romance scams targeting unsuspecting singles have surged to an all-time high.
News 12's senior reporter Tara Rosenblum gained rare access to the world of a former scammer from Africa.
As more Americans turn to online platforms like Tinder and Hinge in search of love, it's crucial to recognize that Mr. Right may not always be just a swipe away.
In parts of Nigeria where hope and food are scarce, we uncover a prevalent activity: Scamming single Americans online.
Adekunie Adedeji, known as Chris, spent years manipulating lonely women, often twice his age and oceans away, into sending him substantial sums of money.
Adedeji candidly admits to orchestrating whirlwind romances, claiming, "I make them fall in love with me… like so much in love...how long did it take your victims to fall in love with you? Maybe four days! Four days! Four days? Yeah, four days."
We obtained a copy of the Romance Scammer Playbook, an online manual providing criminals with pre-written scripts, text message instructions, and techniques for requesting money swiftly.
When asked how many women he successfully ensnared, Adedeji's response is chilling: "I don't know. There was a lot. So many you can't count?"
Adedeji shares that he was never apprehended, but his scamming days ended upon learning about the profound suffering of one of his victims. Remorseful, he felt compelled to come clean.
Today, Adedeji consults for Social Catfish, a company employing reverse search technology to combat online scams, which are seeing a worrisome uptick. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans suffered over a billion dollars in losses due to romance scams last year—a historic high. New York ranked fourth, with 833 individuals losing $33 million in 2022.
David McClellan, Social Catfish CEO/Founder, emphasizes that educating people is a potent tool in curbing these scams. By familiarizing themselves with the warning signs, individuals are far less likely to fall victim to these schemes.
To safeguard against falling prey to similar scams:
  • Conduct a reverse image search of their profile picture, as they are often pilfered from modeling or military sites.
  • Exercise caution if someone professes love without having met in person.
  • Never send money to someone you've only met online.
If you suspect you've been a victim of a romance scam and have suffered financial losses, promptly report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.