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How to Spot an Internet Dating Scam
After several months of online dating, Sarah was thrilled to find out she'd finally meet her internet love interest in person. Mark, her lover from cyberspace who had sent her Teddy Bears, perfume, romantic cards and candy, had finally finished working in Poland and had purchased an airline ticket to return to his home and visit, Sarah. Promising her "much love and kisses," he was expected to arrive sometime in the late evening so Sarah could pick him up at the local airport.
Plans Change Quickly in the Midst of an Emergency
At the last minute, Sarah receives a disturbing phone call, and Mark stated with a shaky voice on the phone that he had "been detained by the Polish authorities in a terrible mistake," but he needed to "borrow money to post bail, leave the country, and return home." Sarah was both worried and disappointed, but her passion for Mark propelled her to wire him the money immediately as she was instructed to a bank in Prague.
Wire the Money Now Scam
Consequently, after sending her money, Sarah never hears from Mark again. After a few days, Mark's phone number is disconnected, his profile is deleted from the dating site, and his emails are not returned. Sarah, has been scammed by the exploding internet dating crime wave.
The Online Internet Dating Scam
According to scamwatch.gov and InternetFraud.gov/USA, the latest wave of internet scams are of the romance and dating type. Scammers will post fake profiles on legitimate dating sites and pose as a prospective lover in order to gain the trust of a person seeking a romantic partner. A target does not have to be rich or have an exceptional position. They only have to be looking for romance, and scammers are very good at spotting the most vulnerable of us.
The Dating Game
Con Artists Love the Internet
Watch For Certain Characteristics of Profiles and Conversations
Characteristics that scammers use are easily spotted if you know what to look for. Firstly, listen to your gut. If something doesn't seem right, go with it and trust your instincts. Certain signs can also be recognizable in profiles:
- The description of their life doesn't match their photo, and it may sound more like a quote or the photo looks like it may be from a magazine
- Lookout for "widower" with a small child or infant, self employed (Engineer for men and model for women).
- Be leary of younger people seeking older woman or man. If you get photos from your admirer, they may be from a magazine or look a little too professional.
- After only a few contacts,the scammer will tell you how much they love you and how they want to be with you.
- Frequently, the scammer will tell you that they live near you or in your country, but they are away working in another country. Although they say they will visit you soon, they never appear.
- Scammers may ask you for money to help them have an operation or buy medication for their or their families' illness.
- Scammers quickly try to move you away from the dating website and strongly prefer emails and IM.
- Emails are poorly written and many of the words are mispelled or misused in context.
- After gaining your trust, scammers will begin to ask you for money for an emergency or family crisis.
Spot a Internet Dating Scam Profile at a Glance
Is it a Scam?
What Should I Do?
Younger woman or man seeking someone in their 50's or 60's
May be a way to seek out the vulnerable or people who have not dated for some time
Move on and don't risk it
Photo looks like it came from a magazine
Profile doesn't match the photo and seems like a very generic quote
Go with your instincts and steer clear
The person asks you to accept funds in your bank account
Money laundering is very popular right now, never give away your personal information to anyone
Report this to the FBI agencies given on this hub
Your admirer asks you for money related to some kind of emergency
Do not believe that this is the truth, the scammers are very good at setting up the victim
Report this and steer away of this person
After a few contacts, the scammer tells you they are in love with you
Scammer will try to move you away from the website and use emails only
Stay clear and use common sense
Agencies to Report Internet Crime/Fraud
Money Laundry Scams from Dating Prospects
The scammer may also ask the victim to accept the transfer of a large amount of money from another country into their American bank account. The perpetrator may offer a large sum of money to the victim for helping them as well. The unsuspecting victim does not realize that the money has been stolen from checks and credit cards from another source of victims. Unfortunately, after the money has been transferred in cash to the scammer, the victim is arrested by the FBI as a perpetrator of a fraud and money laundry scheme. This scam is also seen frequently in spam emails as a job for people to accept funds in their bank accounts for their employer. Many unsuspecting Americans have been arrested by the FBI for this federal offense.
How to Avoid Con Artists and Scammers
The internet dating scene is popular, but doesn't always end well for people seeking romance or companionship. Putting your trust in a stranger can make you vulnerable, so always look for signs and symptoms of a scam, go with your gut instincts, and scan profiles with an investigative eye for fake information.
Test the Prospective Companion
Many of these online dating scams originate in Nigeria or other parts of Africa. These scamners are prolific and their schemes are also seen in your email spam filter. They may claim to be European or American, but may not be familiar with current events in your country. If someone is claiming to be from your country but is currently working in another for a few months, ask them about football, movies, TV shows, or anything that they should know about as a citizen.
Russian Bride Scam
This scam shows beautiful and sexy woman seeking an American man to marry and settle down with. After a specified period of time, they may agree to come to your country and ask for money for travel expenses and an airline ticket. Unfortunately, after the money is received, the bride never appears or is heard from again.
Examine with an Investigative Eye
File a Complaint about an Internet Dating Website
Most dating sites are legitimate and are unaware of fake profiles or lurking con artists, but if you have a complaint about any of the activities on the sites, file a report or complaint with the FBI for online crimes, known as IC3, in order to help reduce the cyber-crime that is exploding globally and costing hundreds of millions of dollars internationally.