Josie Model: why this romance scam has been going on for over 10 years…
She’s called “Josie Model” or “Josie Ann Miller”. These are the most reliable pseudonyms we have on her because her photos are probably the ones that “love-scammers” prefer, even if they have been overused and reported repeatedly for more than 10 years.
Just imagine for a minute: she’s a pretty girl but not really a top model whose profile could be to easily suspected… The perfect “girl next door” ! 😉 At first, she’s contacted you on a dating site and you quickly fall in love. Shortly after, she ends up having tons of problems and asks you for money. OK, you’ve got it: it’s a plain old romance scam…
The main point is that these photos of Josie Model had been taken between 2002 and 2008, and were referenced for years on many anti-fraud sites in several languages… but they still are successfully used all around the world!
Which incentives lead scammers to use stolen Josie Model images for their scams? The photos and videos should be considered unusable because they have been used by dozens of different scammers time and time again. Despite this, it’s still currently easy to find victims’ testimonies about them on the internet.
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of an African scammer. What does he need ?
- an attractive but sensible profile
- a great collection of photos to be sent in various situations
- videos of someone chatting via Skype sessions
- striptease videos for possible sextortion attempts
- a good knowledge of the media directory we can use: he must send the right image or video at the right time
Even if the scammers have diverted a lot of images and videos, the profile quality of Josie Model has no equivalent: tens of thousands of photos and dozens of videos have been stolen on her previous websites and are now available to all! Around 2005, Josie Model was also doing many video chat sessions which is the most valuable “material” for grazers to inject those into Skype (for example with ManyCam). This software makes it possible to convince the victims of the reality of the person with whom they exchange.
A little history of Nigerian scams
The “419 scams” or “African scams” appeared in Nigeria from the colonial era in the early part of the 20th century and multiplied through numerous scam letters sent to the United Kingdom and the United States in 80’s. Thanks to the development of the accessibility of the Internet since 1997 in some cybercafés of Lagos, these fraudulent methods will exponentially grew. Along the classical advance-fee scams (lottery, loan, inheritance …), romance scams became more and more popular with 419 fraudsters and were exported to nearby countries in the early 2000s: Ghana, Benin, Togo and the Ivory Coast.
Gradually, romance scam groups structured and streamlined their approach to maximize their profits. : have a typical scenario, go hunting for a “mugus” i.e. future scam victim, get good contacts so you do not have problems with local authorities or Western Union offices. They also need resources: all kinds of fake mails, stolen identity documents and, above all, photos and videos.
It was in 2007 that these groups were well structured and that the site of Josie Model would be literally looted and that its image began to be exploited for scams. This “mine” would be used constantly, especially in the Ivory Coast for French speakers and in Ghana for English speakers.
In search of the true “Josie”
The saddest part of this story is that the victims managed to be convinced by their scammers that they were truly in contact with the “real” Josie. She explains to them that she has indeed made erotic photos but that this period is now over and she is now looking for a serious relationship. Even worse: they set up a whole story based on the fact that lots of crooks use her image and she is desperate!
But, dear gentlemen, sorry to tell you that the real Josie is no longer online for several years and she has no reason to seek love on the Internet. Unfortunately, the scammers’ mental domination on some of their “mugus” is so powerful that even blogs like this are not able to convince them… What a shame!