NJ man charged with stealing $2M from women seeking love online
He didn't just steal their hearts. He also stole their money.
A Cumberland County man is facing conspiracy charges for allegedly stealing millions of dollars in an online romance fraud scheme.
Rubbin Sarpong, of Millville, is accused of working with several conspirators to set up fraudulent profiles on various dating websites, then convincing more than 30 women to send him a combined total of $2.1 million over a three-year period.
Sarpong allegedly posed as a member of the U.S. military, then established virtual romantic relationships with women from New Jersey and elsewhere he met on the online dating platforms, and convinced them to send him money so he could pay to ship gold bars from other countries to the United States.
According to Mike Doyle, a supervisory special agent with the FBI in New Jersey, online romance scams are an increasing cyber-threat.
Scam artists will troll dating websites looking for needy, vulnerable individuals seeking a relationship.
He said romance scammers have become proficient at using technology. But there are things to look out for that can signal someone isn’t who they claim to be.
Doyle said if you strike up a relationship with someone online but there never seems to be an opportunity “to meet the person in a person-to-person setting, that is a red flag."
He also pointed out if an online romantic contact does ask you for money, no matter what the reason is, “that is not a normal dating behavior.”
He said this may seem obvious to most people, but others can be duped when they’re told “I’ve been put in jail and I need the money to get out of jail, my child is sick, I need that to pay for my child’s surgery.”
He said another ploy used by scammers: “I have come into a lot of money and I need to pay 10% of it up front so I can get the rest of the money released so I can share it with you.”
Another strategy is for the fraudsters to start by asking for a small amount of money, maybe a few hundred dollars, but then as the relationship continues, “often people will up the ante."
He said in many cases these scams are carried out by people in other countries but they may have a contact in the U.S. who they claim is a relative, so their victims will feel more comfortable sending money to a familiar address.
“These are really intricate webs of deceit that are being spun, and the FBI is doing everything in its power to stop it," Doyle said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com