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.


Agari’s investigations into Scarlet Widow and groups like it show how they are able to continue finding and conning victims despite the many obvious red flags. In many instances, they target groups more likely to be lonely and vulnerable, including older divorced women, farmers, and the disabled. Their victims often ignore numerous warning signs and continue to send money, despite being disappointed over and over again by fictional partners who always find another excuse for being unable to meet in person.

These groups are methodical, operating like professional sales organizations, gathering prospects, using scripts to move toward the sale, managing numerous scams in parallel, and putting in the long-term investment of time needed to squeeze the maximum cash out of each victim. Once the victim is no longer useful to the gang, they drop all communication, ultimately leaving the victims alone and without the answers they crave.

Like similar Nigerian scammer groups, Scarlet Widow has branched out into multiple types of scams, including business email compromise, tax fraud, rental scams, and more. These other scams, and the methods Scarlet Widow uses to launder money, will be the subject of Part 2 of this report, scheduled for publication in late February.

ACID | Agari Cyber Intelligence Division

The Agari Cyber Intelligence Division (ACID) is the only counterintelligence research team dedicated to worldwide BEC and spearphishing investigation. ACID supports Agari’s unique mission of protecting communications so that humanity prevails over evil. ACID uncovers identity deception tactics, criminal group dynamics, and relevant trends in advanced email attacks. Created by Agari in 2018, ACID helps to impact the cyber threat ecosystem and mitigate cybercrime activity by working with law enforcement and other trusted partners.

Close button
Mail Letter

Would you like the confidence to trust your inbox?