Alaska Life Hack: Alaska is 'catfish' capital for romance fraud - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 20, 2019
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Alaska Life Hack: Alaska is ‘catfish’ capital for romance fraud

ANCHORAGE RAPE-MURDER CRIMES LINKED TO ‘CATFISHER’ FROM INDIANA

Which state are you most likely to be scammed by online romancers?

Turns out, it’s Alaska, according HighSpeedInternet.com in its report “When Love Bites,” which identifies the 49th state as the Number 1 location where people are most likely to fall prey to romance fraud.

“Catfishing” is the term used for website bottom-feeders who create fake profiles and lure in their victims, often finding ways to extract or extort money from them, or even get them to commit crimes.

Such a scammer may be found in the Indiana man who is in federal custody after allegedly offering $9 million to an 18-year-old Anchorage woman, Denali Brehmer, to murder another Anchorage woman, Cynthia Hoffman, and to film it. Brehmer is accused now of murder for her role in that horrific incident at Thunderbird Falls in Chugiak.

[Read: Investigators: Indiana man offered $9 million for death of Cynthia Hoffman]

Darin Schilmiller, of New Salisbury, Indiana, was indicted in Alaska on Friday on multiple murder charges for his role in the killing of 19-year-old Hoffman. While he didn’t pull the trigger, investigators say he offered the money. His romance victim, Brehmer, is accused of organizing the execution of Hoffman.

[Read: Who is Darin Schilmiller and how is he connected with Cynthia Hoffman’s murder?]

Schilmiller is also under arrest for participating in child porn by encouraging Brehmer to film herself sexually abusing children. Evidence is found in text messages between the two.

Schilmiller posed as someone named “Tyler,” a millionaire from Kansas, and the texts between Brehmer and him indicate romantic attachment.

Two women who know Schilmiller have recounted their experiences that show it’s not the first time he’s posed with a fake identity online to lure women into sexual wrongdoing.

[Read that report here.]

HighSpeedInternet.com based its analysis on data from the 2018 FBI Internet Crime Report, and U.S. Census population estimates. While Alaska is Number 1, Nevada is Number 2, and Wisconsin is Number 3. Western states factor high for having victims of romance fraud.

Con artists use platforms such as Match.com, eHarmony.com, and Tinder.com, as well as lesser-known ones, such as Plenty of Fish. They move their conversations with their marks away from the dating app and over onto Facebook or Whats App to deepen their ability to discover useful things about their victims.

The Better Business Bureau has a complete primer on the ways that con men (and women) operate, how they gain the confidence of their prey, and some of the scripts they use to grow the relationships.  You can report to the BBB any instances of this occurring to you at its Scam Tracker page.

Have you been a victim of catfishing romance fraud? You can comment below and keep your identify private.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comment

  • We live in the Internet age, but yet, people are still so easily duped online, where nothing and nobody is verified, and where you cannot assume or believe anything about anyone you encounter: where they are, who they are, and anything they say.

    In this case, the perps wanted to believe in the $9mm and did not want to even consider the possibility that they were being catfished, and believed it so much, they organized a murder. They did not even get any down payment or any proof or the $9mm before deciding to murder. How is that level of gullibility even possible, to where all morals and ethics are thrown out the window, just because of some fanciful idea that you want to believe more than anything, but is very easy to prove false? This is not just the power of money, we are talking about serious self-delusion and serious risks from the Internet that we just have not seen before. People need education about how to use the Internet.

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