Fight romance scams with Google Images Reverse

If I have performed a service successfully three times, should I consider it a sideline or adjunct to my technology consulting services? The thought has crossed my mind, but today I want to tell you how a reverse Google Images search has helped me solve problems with my friends..

I think all of has used Google Images at this point. Maybe we wanted to find pictures for a report or an invitation we were typing up in Word. Possibly, you were looking for a new background for your desktop. You may have been trying to put together a PowerPoint. You may have just been trying to have fun. Unfortunately, people use images found on Google Images and other websites for nefarious purposes.

I hope no one has ever tried to pitch you on some land that seemed too good to be true. I know that my clients are too smart to fall for a romance scam, but maybe you have a brother who was duped by a Russian mail order bride or have a child who suffered from the same misfortune. Over the past 18 months, I have helped three friends break away from online romance scams as a result of my research.

I can’t recall all the details of the first two, but I just helped a friend out this past Sunday night using a new tool — Google Images reverse search. My Indonesian friend thought she had met the man of her dreams, an Air Force pilot based in Texas. Right away, I knew it was a scam because there has not been an AF base in Amarillo TX since 1968. It is now a small airport. However, she didn’t believe me yet. She thought she was going to run off with his guy and live happily ever after.

To do a reverse search on Google Images, you need to be using a computer. Safari, Firefox or Chrome work well with this. The direct link for Google images is images.google.com The man sent my friend several pictures of himself. The photos revealed a strapping young man in his 30’s. He appeared to be about 210 pounds of pure muscle in his military garb. While on the Google Images page, I clicked the photo button. This allowed me to upload a picture that I wanted to search for across Google. Read that again. I did not type in any words on Google Images. I was not looking up “air force officer Amarillo.” I searched their image database WITH A PICTURE. I was looking for matches. Fortunately, I only had to do this once. Bingo!!

There are two romance scam websites devoted to helping people beat these predators. Numerous hits came up for the photo I searched with. Apparently, they were stolen from a real military man, probably from his Facebook page. The scammer or network of scammers were based out of Nigeria. They claimed to be American, Dutch, South African and Spanish. Once they got these women to trust them and sent several emails with “song and dance” tales of love and loss, they asked for money. My friend never got that far, but had completely fallen for him. She said he even did a Skype chat which seemed so real. Wow! I would like to find out what software was used to pull that off. The scammers may have strung all of those images together and made them move. For all I know, this could have been the work of a terrorist operation.

I was finally able to talk some sense into my friend. Slowly, she is moving on. So, remember Google Images and its close cousin, Google Images – Reverse Search.

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