Online dating is a proven way to meet other people that have similar interests. Unfortunately, online dating has also been a successful place for scam artists to take advantage of trusting souls who are looking for love or companionship. Like other scams, internet dating scams are based on trust. The scammer or con artist becomes your friend, earns your trust, or even gets you to “fall” for them before they blindside you with requests for money.
Online Dating Scams are Real
You might think that “It could never happen to me,” but internet dating scams do happen to thousands of unsuspecting people every year. Online dating imposters are so prevalent that they’ve earned the urban slang term “catfish.” The name comes from the 2010 American documentary, Catfish, about a young man who was caught up by a woman’s online claims to be someone she wasn’t. Later MTV produced a reality TV show based on the movie. The Federal Trade Commission frequently issues consumer safety alerts for the public to watch for warning signs of online dating scams. According to the FTC, warning signs of internet dating fraud include “any request for money for any reason, and any mention of wiring money.”
Don’t be a Victim of Romance
The FBI warns that criminals use online dating sites to “turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams.” Here’s how one of the internet dating scams works: You are contacted online by someone who is interested in you. Their profile seems like a perfect match, too good to be true, and it is because it’s fake and was carefully crafted to match your interests. You chat back and forth for weeks or even months building trust and forming a personal connection.
“But ultimately, it’s going to happen—your new-found “friend” is going to ask you for money,” says FBI spokesperson Darrell Foxworth in a press release. Because the bogus requests are urgent – for medical emergencies, crime victimization, etc. – many victims send money, usually overseas, and then are repeatedly asked for more money. Sadly, many good-hearted people fall for these sorts of internet dating scams.
A different sort of online dating scam goes like this: You are asked to go to a different website to correspond with your new “friend.” At the new website or sexting platform, you share compromising photos, videos or conversations. Later the scammer blackmails you by threatening to expose you by sending emails and links to the photos to your friends, family or employers. Many have been victimized by this type of extortion.
Six Warning Signs of Online Dating Scams:
The FBI has collected a list of red flag behaviors. Avoid online dating scams by reviewing this list to make sure that your romantic interest isn’t an internet dating scam artist. If he or she exhibits any of the following behaviors, you might be dealing with a dating fraudster:
- Presses you to leave the dating website where you met and wants to communicate using personal e-mail, instant messaging or another website;
- Professes instant feelings of love;
- Sends you photographs that make them look like something out of glamour magazines;
- Claims to be from the U.S. but says they are currently traveling or working overseas;
- Makes plans to visit you but later is unable to do so because of a tragic event; or
- Asks for money for a variety of reasons including:
- Travel expenses,
- medical emergencies,
- hotel bills,
- hospitals bills for a child or other relatives,
- visas or other official documents, and
- losses from a financial setback or crime victimization.
Sympathy scams are effective for extracting money from people when they have opened themselves romantically.
- Update your security software, web browser and operating system.
- Make your passwords long and strong.Use uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols when creating passwords. Design unique passwords for each of your accounts.
- Protect your personal information.Safeguard personal information like phone number, address, last name, Social Security number, financial information and email. Do not post it in your profile and do not give it to another person who asks for it. “In your dating profile, don’t reveal too much information about your family and children.” Never post photos of your children.
- Be aware of what’s shared.Set the privacy and security settings on web services, social media sites and devices to your comfort level. It’s OK to limit how your information is being shared and who you can see your information and posts.
- Be wary of “communication that implores you to act immediately.”
When faced with warning signs, we at SingleandSober.com ask you to remember the adage: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Please report any suspicious activity to the SingleandSober.com contact page. https://singleandsober.com/contact