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According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, online romance scams account for higher financial losses than any other internet-based crime.
It’s not uncommon for victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
But soon after, she learned that the son had had an accident at school and needed help paying hospital bills — urgently.
“Of course I was sending money again to Western Union,” Firefly says.
Mays is a romance scam-baiter, which means he hangs out on dating sites, posing as a naive love-seeker, with the goal of unmasking — and exhausting — confidence men and women.
Five years ago, he and a small team of international volunteers, including Firefly, created Scam Survivors, a hotline and information resource center for victims of online scams — mostly, as it turns out, romance scams. “With the romance scam, it could be someone who's been married for a number of years.
The site tends to be a last resort for victims who are afraid to go to the police, or to tell anyone in their life what’s happened, because they’re ashamed. Their partner has either died or they've divorced and they've just started looking at online dating.
Hussein said her training had included ideology sessions.
The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, which follows the leftist ideology of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.