CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — A U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Virginia is working to bring awareness to romance scams and other types of online fraud.
The digital awareness campaign includes 15- and 30-second public service announcements as well as a long-form video about the scams, that focus on how the elderly population is particularly at risk.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of West Virginia partnered with Kenneth Emeni, 30, a Nigerian man who was convicted of participating in a multimillion-dollar romance fraud scam based in Huntington. That scam targeted at least 200 people, many of whom were elderly, of at least $2.5 million according to a press release from the USAO.
Emeni explains that scammers create fake personas in order to get into romantic, friendship or business relationships with their targets using emails, text messages, online dating websites and social media, in order to persuade them to send the scammers money.
“As part of his acceptance of responsibility for his crime, Mr. Emeni agreed to provide a firsthand account of how these scams identify, target and exploit their victims,” United States Attorney Will Thompson said in the release. “We hope this awareness campaign will help West Virginians safeguard themselves and their loved ones against fraudulent schemes.”
The Department of Justice has a National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311) staffed Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Anyone who feels they may have been the victim of an online scam can also report their experience to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
The long-form video is available to watch in the video player below: