Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money.
This might be for requests for gas money or bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc.
Some scammers may also use Bitcoin as an alternative payment method.
Sensitive people are more vulnerable to online dating scams, based on a study conducted by the British Psychological Society.
Scammers are very adept at knowing how to "play" their victims - sending love poems, sex games in emails, building up a "loving relationship" with many promises of "one day we will be married".
Often photos of unknown African actresses will be used to lure the victim into believing they are talking to that person.
Sometimes the third party is real, sometimes fictitious.
Funds sent by Western Union and Money Gram do not have to be claimed by anyone showing identification if the sender sends money using a secret pass phrase and response, and can be picked up anywhere in the world.
Scammers prefer to use the images, names and profiles of soldiers as this usually inspires confidence, trust and admiration in their female victims.
Also because military public relations often posts information on soldiers without mentioning their families or personal lives, images are stolen from these websites by organized internet crime gangs often operating out of Nigeria or Ghana.
The scammer keeps the victim believing that they are sincere, until they are able to build up enough rapport to ask for thousands of dollars to help bring the gold into the victim's country.
The scammer will offer to fly to the victim's country to prove that they are a real person. However, when the victim goes to meet the scammer they never show up.
Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur.