Computer Crime Research Center


Internet scam lessons

Date: December 14, 2006

At 33 years of age, Paula Cooper felt reasonably confident she'd learned her share of life's lessons.
She was wrong.

Cooper, a Penticton resident, was a victim of an elaborate Internet scam to the sum of US$5,000 from a man she'd met on an online dating service.

About two weeks following the incident, Cooper was watching an episode on Dr. Phil warning people of the dangers of Internet scammers.

"This should have been on three months ago," Cooper said with a chuckle.
She has learned to develop a sense of humour about an incident which saddled her with a debt she hadn't planned on but also has her questioning how it occurred.

"After I found out what had happened I thought to myself 'how could I have let myself be taken advantage of?' "

Cooper, like many, leads a busy life leaving her with little spare time to meet new people. In February, she decided to give Internet dating a shot and registered with an online dating service.
A day later, she received a phone call from a man who said his name was Kevin Higgins, a 41-year-old Toronto resident. The two began to speak regularly, sharing information such as where each had grown up, what their interests were and what line of work each was in; Higgins said he was currently in Nigeria on a construction project. They also exchanged photographs.
Cooper said Higgins seemed frank and open as they got to know one another and they chatted almost daily and "he was very nice."

Higgins even played the sympathy card, telling Cooper he'd lost his parents to a car crash at 21 all while charming her with sweet-talk, expressions of his affection for her and his longing to see her in person as soon as his project wrapped up.
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