The only truth in a romance scam is you sent money, and someone received. A recipient could also be a victim, and their online love told them the transfer is from a business deal. The receiver could also be a money mule who earns money by accepting and forwarding funds.
Privacy Expert, Frank M. Ahearn explains how to recover funds lost in a romance scam.
For the past few years, I have worked with many victims of romance scams; whose losses ranged from a thousand to well over two million euros. The truth, I was able to recover funds for some but not others. Unfortunately, there is no specific reason as to why. One could say, the country funds sent to, or the bank made an error, who knows, but I have never been able to determine why. I am no longer searching for funds; therefore, my best suggestion is to take action yourself.
What I always explain is there is no secret button or hacker who can magically recover funds. That is not to say you should do nothing, because when you do nothing, nothing happens. When educating yourself on romance fraud, be cautious because scammers pose as hackers and private detectives. Even being more careful about some of the information you learn in the various scammer forums. I have noticed that some post information without researching or verifying the content of their post. Some are angry rants, and irresponsible advice. I even read information about myself from a person who has never done business with me.
To recover funds, you must graduate from the victim to your very own private detective. The first rule is to forget the individual you have been chatting with; more than likely, it has been more than one person. Your focus should solely be on the people you sent money. It does not matter if they are in Africa, Istanbul, Hong Kong, or New York; you go after them.
The tactic is to contact the money receiver, local law enforcement, and the local bank or cash transfer service.
Check your money transfers, search if you have the address of the individual you sent funds. If you do, you can write them directly and explain you are contacting law enforcement if they do not return your funds.
For protection, please do not include your return address on the envelop, plus, blackout your address on the bank transfer copy. The safest form of communication is an email address. The letter should be simple.
I am the victim of a scam, and you received my money. Before I contact law enforcement and your bank, I am allowing you the opportunity to send back my funds.
The next step is to contact the bank branch, their corporate office, and law enforcement in that city.
My name is X, and a customer of X Bank, Mr. Fraud, has deceived me out of money. I believe they are part of a money-laundering organization. I need your help to open an investigation and to recover my funds. Enclosed are copies of my bank transfers.
When you address the bank and police envelope, write ATTENTION BANK FRAUD.
With law enforcement, search all law enforcement agencies in that city, state, and country. Send a letter or two to each agency. Be loud and get heard!
When sending letters to foreign countries, send in your native language, and use Google or Bing to translate into the local language.
Besides law enforcement, I have discovered that the Postal Service in many countries also investigates romance scams. So, search for the address of the postal police.
There are no guarantees, but do not stop or give up, keep mailing and be a pain in the ass until the bank or law take action. Good luck, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Frank M. Ahearn