Today, dating web services became very popular amongst Americans. Lots of people already found their spouse, soul mate, or sparkling romance online. Unfortunately, various scams use dating sites to find easy prey – lonely credulous people in pursuit of love.
Those scammers invade chatting rooms and social networks, searching for passionate victims. Most of them pretend to be Americans: travellers or expats. Most of them in fact live abroad. Widowed or divorced middle aged women are the most vulnerable demographic cluster for scams. However, some of those criminals specialize in other groups, such as elderly men and women, or disabled.
The scheme of scamming is like this: a handsome man (woman), who has a nice profile on some social media site, shows you some sign of interest. You may have a long period of conversation, while a scammer tries to create close personal ties with you. He or she can even send you a gift, like a perfume or a bouquet of flowers. But earlier or later you will be asked for money.
If you send your “dear friend” some amount of money, it will become the beginning of your “commercial relationship” with the scams. They will make up different hardships and difficult living situations that only your material support is able to resolve. The scammer may also send you checks asking you to cash it because he or she is temporarily out of the country and therefore cannot cash them, or you may be asked to forward a package.
If something like this happens then you have come under attack of criminals. Possibly, they have gathered your personal information from your accounts on social media or matchmaking Internet sites. Their deceptive web profiles are specially concocted to meet your preferences and interests. The pictures from the profiles were downloaded from the open profiles of other users.
In this case you probably not only lose your money, but also take part in an illegal money laundering pattern by cashing checks, sending the money abroad, or by shipping stolen goods.
There is a newly invented scheme where soon after meeting on a dating website you are asked for a further contact on a certain social network website. After getting access to your personal data the scam provokes explicit intimate conversations with you. In the aftermath you will receive a link to a site where your photos, personal information and conversations along with an accusation that you are a cheater are posted. The scammers will offer you to pay a definite sum of money, say 100 dollars, if you want this information being removed. You may send them money, but there is no warranty that the deal will be executed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement organizations work with work with such cases. The cases of particular interest are that which concern many victims or large sums of money. Many cases are investigated by state or local authorities.
If you were abused by a dating criminal, you are recommended to send a complaint to the US Internet Crime Complaint Center. IC3 officers will investigate your complaint. Also, they will analyze common threads, trying to link different complaints together in order to identify scammers.
These actions will help the authorities to prevent further malpractices.
Below, we put together some guidelines on how to escape becoming a victim of dating scams. Your online “friend” may be a cheater if he (she):
- confesses his (her) love for you from the start of the conversation;
- says that he (she) is American who temporarily lives or travels abroad;
- forces you to leave the site where you have got acquainted with him or she, and start communicating through a certain social network website;
- sends you photographs which look as if they were taken from a glamour magazine;
- says about plans to visit you, but after a short while starts to complain about some kind of problems involving money;
- declares about some financial troubles concerning health, children, tragic events, etc.
If you want to keep safe from scammers, you are recommended to well-known web matchmaking services with a good reputation.