The $1.3 Million Date And Other Online Scams

For as long as the internet has been around, criminals have been using it to take advantage of innocent individuals and businesses. Although the methods have changed and become more sophisticated, the goal remains the same: scamming people out of their money. Below is a list of the 5 biggest internet scams in history, and how much the criminals managed to make off with.
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By: Nic Bowen

1. Online Dating Scam: $1.3 Million.


Since 2013, more than $90 million has been scammed out of people in various online dating scams. Keeping in mind that approximately every one in ten dating profiles is a fake, it’s not difficult to assume that fraudsters are making regular use of online dating sites to scam money, gifts, and other goods out of people. 


The biggest online dating scam on record is in 2013, when a Canadian woman known as ‘Ellen’ willingly gifted $1.3 million to an online fraudster known only as ‘Dave’. After approximately one year of receiving expensive gifts, favours, and money deposits, ‘Dave’ simply disappeared. People who make use of online dating sites are encouraged to not send money or gifts to people before they have met in person.


2. ATM Scam: $85 Million.


ATM fraud is a complex process whereby criminals hack into a banking companies computer systems, and steal thousands of clients banking details in a matter of minutes. The biggest case of ATM fraud on record occurred in the Netherlands in 2013.


Ten individuals were implicated in the crimes, which involved two separate hacking incidents in which a total of $85 million was stolen. After obtaining credit card information, the criminals then proceeded to steal $40 million from ATM’s all around the world. The second incident occurred roughly two weeks later, and resulted in $45 million being stolen from ATM’s in the same manner. Eight American citizens and two Dutch nationals were subsequently arrested for the crimes.


3. Credit Card Fraud Scam: $200 Million


In 2012, eighteen people were arrested for being part of an international credit card fraud ring which had managed to steal a total of $200 million over a two year period. At the time, this was the largest case of online fraud on record.


The crime occurred when the scammers managed to obtain over 7000 fake identities from around the world in order to steal credit card information and take out cash loans using these identities. They would supply banks and credit bureaus with the fake information and identities in order to inflate credit ratings and obtain loans.


4. Various Incidents By Global Fraud Ring: $200 Million.


In what would go down as the harshest sentence ever handed down for a online crime, Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role as ringleader in a notorious global fraud organisation. The criminals were able to commit credit card fraud by hacking into the computer systems of retail stores and stealing customer’s banking information.


Over a period of three years, Gonzalez managed to amass a personal fortune of over $2.8 million dollars, allowing him to live a life of luxury, complete with several Ferraris and his own personal yacht. Authorities have estimated that over the course of the scam, the criminals managed to steal a total of $200 million, causing further damage to the local economy. 


5. International Banking Scam: $300 Million.


In July 2013, five men were arrested for what was the biggest online scam in American history. The men managed to hack into the computer systems of Visa, Nasdaq, Citibank, and other top financial and banking institutions, and stole over 160 million credit card numbers. 


The criminals sold the credit card information to other hackers and scammers, resulting in an estimated $300 million worth of financial losses and economic damages. The fraudsters had connections with other criminals all over the world, including the Gonzalez crime ring.