The National Bureau of Investigation on Monday warned Filipinos about online love scams after authorities arrested three foreigners for conning Filipinas online.
Three Nigerians were arrested in Cavite after Valentine's Day after authorities received an anonymous tip that they were hiding there, spokesperson Dana Sandoval told TeleRadyo. The suspects used aliases to lure in Filipinas so they could defraud them of large sums of money, she said.
"Marami po 'yang mga inii-scam kaya 'yun po ang warning natin sa mga kababayan natin na huwag po basta-bastag maniniwala sa mga ganito pong nanloloko at nagpapaibig at kikikilan po kayo ng pera," said Sandoval.
Authorities have yet to determine if the trio have other cohorts and if they belong to an African organized crime group involved in other illegal activities, she said.
Scammers prey on those looking for love and attention online, said life coach Kathy Minoza-Cueson, warning Filipinos to be on guard in case they are targeted by con men online.
Here are some telltale signs an online date could be a scammer:
He promises you travels and even marriage
It's one of the first things they would promise before they ask their potential victims to send them money, Sandoval said.
He says I love you even without meeting up
"Madali sila agad magsabi na mahal ka n'ya e hindi pa nga kayo nagkikita at hindi pa kayo nagkakasama, hindi pa alam ang ugali ng isa't isa," Minoza-Cueson told TeleRadyo in a separate interview.
He won't show his face via video calls
While some scammers meet with their victims before asking for money, some of them will stick to online conversations and won't agree to a video call, citing family emergencies or loss of signal.
He will ask you to converse outside the dating app
If using a dating app, a scammer might ask their victims to communicate somewhere else where there's no protection against con artists, the life coach said.
He will ask for money for a family emergency
"Malalambot ang mga puso nating mga Pinoy at very clanish tayo kaya 'pag inatake 'yung pagdating sa pamilya na gusto ko tulungan si nanay... madali tayong mahipo sa puso kaya dapat ay bantayan lalo natin pagka ganun na ang kanilang mga kuwento," Minoza-Cueson said.
When in doubt, do a "legit check," the life coach said. Visit the person's social media accounts and check if they are connected to real people online.
"Maganda rin na nile-legit check natin lalo kung nakilala lang natin ito online, hindi naman ito ipinakilala ng isang kaibigan na may puwde tayong pagtanungan ng kanilang pagkatao."