Scammers have been using online messaging platforms including WhatsApp to connect with potential targets. The conmen scam their victims by pretending to be top celebrities in Monaco, including Prince Albert II.
The scammers use the platforms to con their victims into sending them money, although it's not clear why anyone would send money to a random user online, even if they were claiming to be a celebrity. Why would a celebrity need money?
One victim was a well-known journalist who was contacted by the conmen on WhatsApp claiming to be Prince Albert II and asked for money to help free a local journalist. The scam involved freeing the journalist who was supposedly kidnapped by an Islamic group.
In another scam, the conmen even made video contact with a victim and pretended to be Prince Albert II in his office at the palace prompting police to launch an investigation.
The conmen have victimized enough people for the government of Monaco to take notice and enact a series of stings. A statement from the Monaco authorities said:
"For several weeks, individuals who are part of organised groups, have been stealing the identities of high-ranking personalities in the principality and trying to establish personal contact with them… notably through electronic messages, SMS or video-conferencing via a WhatsApp type of application."
The statement also described the targets as "leaders of society or people with responsibility". Prince Albert II has been ruling Monaco since the death of his father in 2005.
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