Nowadays it is natural to look for a companion or love on the Internet. Millions of Americans do it visiting dating websites in the hope of finding a soul mate. The problem is that these sites are also visited by criminals who seek to deprive lonely people of their money.
These criminals also browse social networks and chat rooms hunting for vulnerable romantic victims. They usually introduce themselves as Americans and say that they are either working or traveling abroad, which is not true. They choose divorced and widowed women as their targets, mainly over 40, though every age and demographic group is running the risk of being scammed.
The scam scheme is the following. Someone contacts you online. This person can e-mail a photo to you or there is a profile which you can look at. When forming a connection, those scammers have great patience. They may chat with you for months. They know that you will be highly pleased to get flowers and gifts so they send them to you. When your new friend feels that he has aroused trust in you, he is sure to turn to you for money alleging different hardships.
If you send money, make no doubt more requests will follow. You may be also asked to send a package to him or to cash a check for him because he is abroad and can’t do it himself.
What does it mean? What happened? The criminals made use of your personal information on the dating site or social networks. The photos you got were most probably borrowed from other sites and the profiles were created specifically for you.
Not only do you lose your money to a stranger who will hardly ever visit you, but also you cash fraud checks thus participating in money laundering. The package you sent may be stolen merchandise.
Another variant of dating scams connected with extortion works like this. You meet someone on a dating site. Then this person asks you to continue the conversation on a social media site. Little by little your talk will become intimate. Soon you will get a link that will take you to a site where not only the conversations are posted, but also photos with phone numbers declaring them “cheaters”. Of course, you will want to have the information removed, but be ready to pay some money, assume $99.
Such crimes are dealt with by local authorities, though more serious cases connected with large losses of money or where organized criminal groups are involved are investigated by the FBI or other federal agencies.
If you have suffered from an online scam, including a dating scam, go to www.ic3.gov which is the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file your complaint.
The complaints are analyzed and compared to find common threads and link them together, which helps figure out the offenders, and then they are forwarded to the law-enforcement agencies.
We have collected some pieces of advice that will prevent you from joining the ranks of those people who have already become victims of online dating scams.
How to Figure Out an Online Dating Scammer
Rest assured that he or she is interested not in you but in your money if this “date”:
• Insists on communicating through personal e-mail or something like that but not through the dating site where you met;
• Says that he or she is an American working or traveling in a faraway country;
• The photograph sent to you looks like the one in a glamour magazine;
• Constantly claims to have feelings for you;
• Intends to meet you in person but then some tragic event interferes with these plans;
• Asks for money pleading one of the following reasons ‒ visas or other documents, travel or medical emergencies, hospital bills for a relative, hotel bills, financial losses, crime victimization, etc.
But one way to secure against these criminals is to use the services of dating websites which enjoy good reputations.