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How to Spot an Internet Dating Scam

Updated on December 20, 2012
Source

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

Source

Con Artists Love the Internet

Source

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

Signs
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

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

Source

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.

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    • Anishwebmaster profile image

      Anish Kumar 3 years ago from Mundi Kharar, Mohali, Chandigarh, (Punjab)

      very informative hub..thanks for sharing this useful information with us..

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      That's really scary CrisSp, we have to remember when conversing online that we really don't know who we are talking to. Great info! Thanks!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Georgie, I wasn't aware of the Native American profile, I will keep that in mind also, thanks!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 4 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      It's no joke that people need to be exceptionally careful these days. One thing I've noticed with some of the scammers is that they will often choose "Native American" on their profiles. Thanks for getting the word out there.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is a great and very important read for everyone specially those seeking on-line relationship and the vulnerable ones.

      I personally know a 19 year old lured by a 40 year old woman who pretended to be 19 as well at that time. They started chatting on line and managed to make the 19 yr old believed all her tales-web of lies. The rest is (bad) history but the truth was eventually found out not only about the woman's fake age but of the changed of name, fake profile pic and a lot more of scary stuff about her, including running away from one city to another looking for a perfect prey. It's a scary world out there!

      Thanks for this enlightening and very informative hub. Up and sharing.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Deborah so good to read this.. when I was separated from my husband I en countered of few of these people.. wow did I get real scared when he started asking for money.. scared me so much I quickly deleted everything.. found out later it was a scam.. like you said listen to your gut..

      excellent hub my dear.. voted up and sharing

      Debbie

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      and believe me dear Deborah there are even scam artists at the Hub.

      Just dropping in to say hello and I just got my workout of about 45 minutes by digging my car out of my knee deep driveway. We had our first major snowstorm of the season and it was a big one but it's funny how the next day is not too bad. Calm, no blowing wind or snow - thank god for the day after. I hope sincerely you and your family and friends had a nice holiday - sending you warm wishes from a cold lake erie time 3:19pm canada

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Laurinzo, these scammers must be stopped, and we can do that by being informed! Thanks for being "smart" and sharing your experience. This is a big problem right now and we all need to be on guard for any kind of scam! Thank you Laurinzo

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks lovedoc, I have got to get a clip of this on this hub! You are right, this will be very useful! Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Dr. Phil’s guests say they fell victim to a catfish -- a person who creates a false ID on the Internet in the hopes of luring people into romantic relationships. Devon says she fell in love with a man named David, whom she met online, and then spent nearly three years planning their future together -- without ever meeting him in person. She says they talked and texted every day for hours and exchanged photos, but every time they attempted to meet, David always had an excuse to reschedule. Although Devon was in love, she says David was controlling and manipulative, and she started cutting herself to cope. Then, a phone call changed everything -- Devon says she was shocked to learn that David wasn’t who he said he was. And, Lauren, Bobbi and Kelly say they also fell for the same man and spent months establishing an online relationship -- one that never culminated in a face-to-face meeting. The women say an estimated 26 women have fallen victim to this alleged catfish’s schemes. What were the signs that they missed? And what would drive a person to carry out such a deception?

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Hi eHealer, your article reminded me of the Dr. Phil show yesterday. Please watch this or perhaps you might want to add this to this hub. I was in total shock. It makes you think twice about dating online.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiKIpWwaSoo

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 4 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Very good hub on a very important topic eHealer...

      As admittedly I was on one of those free online dating sites recently that don't monitor their participants at all, and of course as your hub indicates there are signs that something is amiss.

      It started when the lady in question (if it even was a lady) sent me these very "friendly" pictures, and immediately got familiar enough to start using terms like... "darling, and babe"

      But on the day she asked me to please help the poor orphan boy her church had soewhat adopted... I asked her, or him, or they... or whatever this scamming entity was to not bother me anymore

      Again you have written a very smart, informative hub!!!!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Kathy and thank you for sharing your experience. Luckily you are a smart woman and figured out his intentions! Many people get caught off guard, or just want it to be a "real relationship." That's so great that you were receptive to the scam and got away from that scammer! Thanks again for sharing and helping others, and I am sure you truly have!

      Deb

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      This is excellent information and a real problem with online dating. I am so very happy you have written it.

      After 25 years of marriage I was on the the dating scene again. I joined Match.com which worked well for me. It didn't take me long to find my soul mate, although I did meet a scam artist along the way.

      My guy was an engineer temporarily stationed in Nigeria, with a tragic tale of deceit he was now left to care for his three year old son alone.

      We communicated only once via instant messaging for about an hour. By the end of that hour he had pledged his undying love for me. He asked that I go off Match and wait for him; his job in Nigeria would end in just three months (obvious red flag).

      I told him I wasn't interested and ended the conversation. The next morning there was a love poem from him (very strange) I googled a part of the poem and found this was a standard poem scam artists used from Nigeria. I then read many testimonies of women who had been taken in by scam artists and lost thousands of dollars. My guy wasn't that smooth, so I was able to spot the scam right away.

      This shouldn't discourage women from online dating, it can be done very successfully; I am proof of that.

      Your post is right on target, all the information a woman needs to have for a successful online dating experience.

      Thank you, voted up and shared!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Finally catching up on my reading after the holiday. This is a really useful hub eHealer. Luckily I am married and I met my husband through friends, but I know a number of people who have met others thru dating sites. It's scary that this sort of thing happens and I imagine for the person scammed, it is heartbreaking. Useful, up and shared.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Colin, you have been my Christmas gift, I and my friends and family have read your master poetry and have shared it all over the world. You really are so talented and awesome. We continue to share and discuss your prose with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Thank you Epigramman, you are a true artist and I love your work!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ...Well my dear Deborah you have outdone yourself once again and left the epi-man with his mouth open whenever he reads your words.

      You are such an eclectic writer and of course with humanity on the radar there will always be plenty to write about but you do it so well and with so much clartiy and feeling - you are really getting through to your readers and we are the lucky ones to be able to read someone as awesome as you.

      Deborah, since the day we both met you have been like a Christmas present to me - the gift of your friendship and your status as an esteemed is of course the greatest gift of all - and you have no idea how much your comments inspire me - well they actually make me walk on air - I am sending you now warm wishes for your holidays and also continued health, happiness and prospertity into the new year for you and your family and friends.

      lake erie time 9:59pm

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Rulalenska, your comments are wonderfully supportive! Nice meeting you on the hubs!

    • rulalenska profile image

      Rula Lenski 4 years ago from USA

      I found this to be fascinating and all I needed to know in one article. Great work!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks LoveDoctor, this is a huge epidemic for online scams at this moment. Thanks for your support!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      This is very useful information. thank you so much for sharing.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks DashingScorpio (Great name!), and I appreciate your supportive comments! Nice to meet you as well, and I am going to check out your hubs!

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 4 years ago

      Excellent advice! (Voted up and useful)

      Whether you meet someone online or in person it's important to remember they are still "strangers". Trust like respect has to be earned overtime. Con artists have always been around and using computers or Internet dating is just another tool. Another good idea is to run the scenario past your family and friends.

      "Never separate your mind from your heart when making relationship decisions. The purpose of the mind is to protect the heart." One man's opinion! :-)