Since 2017, Agari has been tracking and gathering intel on a Nigeria-based crime ring we’ve named Scarlet Widow. This report presents an in-depth look at how the group’s romance scams work, and includes the heartbreaking case study of a victim who was conned out of more than $50,000.

In this report, we uncover:

  • How Scarlet Widow mastered the seductive art of the romance scam
  • Which types of people  are most frequently targeted as victims, and
  • What kinds of emails are sent to encourage victims to send money

Download Scarlet Widow: Breaking Hearts for Profit to see how easy it is for cybercriminals to take advantage of vulnerable populations for their own gain.

Executive Summary

Since 2017, Agari has been tracking and gathering intel on a Nigeria-based crime ring we’ve named Scarlet Widow. The group has a history of exploiting vulnerable populations, from romance scams against farmers and individuals with disabilities to wide-ranging business email compromise (BEC) attacks against organizations around the world.

This report presents an in-depth look at how the group’s romance scams work, and includes the heartbreaking case study of a victim who was conned out of more than $50,000.

Scarlet Widow has mastered the seductive art of the romance scam, defrauding victims in the United States out of thousands of dollars through a prolific number of cons. In all romance scams had led to personal losses of nearly $1 billion in the US and Canada since 2015, according to research from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And that’s only the crimes that get reported. In all actuality, this number is likely much larger.

This document is the first of two reports Agari has prepared on Scarlet Widow. The second report, which will be released in late February 2019, covers more about the group’s members and structure, their transition to BEC attacks, and how they launder their fraudulent proceeds.

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