Online Dating scams abound on free online dating sites as well as paid sites. The Better Business Bureau has listed online dating sites among its top 10 scams.
The trouble is, it’s hard to know if the person you want to meet is really who they say they are.
It’s been reported that 70% of the victims are female, and most victims are over age 40.
The typical scammer may spend weeks or months developing a relationship. The photo you see may not be the same person you are talking with or texting. It could even be a photo taken from a modeling site.
After weeks or months of romancing you from a distance, they may suddenly come up with requests for money. They could say they live in the US, but are stuck in another country and need funds.
An example would be someone who claims to be an antique dealer. He travels to another country to buy antiques, but then he gets stuck and needs cash wired to him to buy the antiques, or for some other problem.
Other scammers claim they are U.S. soldiers serving abroad and need money for an international phone, a plane ticket home, or some emergency.
The U.S. Army says they receive hundreds of reports every month from people fooled by phony service members.
There have also been scams involving extortion of money, if you get involved in intimate conversations, or are seduced into sending explicit photos or videos.
After all the intimate conversations take place, some victims have been given links to sites where the conversations were posted, along with the victims phone numbers, photos, videos, etc.
Victims then are either threatened to pay to have the information removed, or threatened to pay before images and videos are posted. This is extortion.
Also, if you are enticed by someone who wants you to click on a suggested link, this could be putting a program on that is hacking into your computer, and recording keystrokes and other information.
The FBI has received thousands of complaints from victims of online dating scams.
Advice to avoid online dating scams:
- Check out the policies and the Terms of Service of whatever site you are using. Email and ask them questions, such as what their policy on abuse is. Do they give tips on avoiding scammers and predators? Do they screen videos from webcams and chats? Do they screen users through a sex offender database?
- If possible use skype or video chat to see what your love interest looks like.
- Do a little detective work. You can type their phone number, Email address, etc. into search engines and see what comes up.
- Be very suspicious if someone claims to be “local”, but says they’re now out of the country.
- Don’t send explicit Email messages, photos, or videos.
- Don’t send anyone money.
- If someone tries to extort money, contact the police or FBI.