The new year is just around the corner. Many will be making typical resolutions: finally quitting smoking (again), getting into marathon shape, going vegan (again), learn a new language, or maybe breaking down and giving online dating a try. It’s lost the stigma it once had, to meet someone online. You’ve been considering ways of meeting someone new, outside your usual circle, and the people your friends keep setting you up with. It’s ideal, right? You can preview various bios, isolating the traits and nuances of a potential friend or date. We shop online and pay our bills online. Why not find a date online?
What isn’t considered is not everyone on a dating site is who they say they are. They’re not always upfront and honest about their intentions. We’re not talking about age, height, and weight. And we’ll ignore the obvious thought of married people who shouldn’t be on a singles dating site. Instead, let’s focus on scam artists. They’ve gone high-tech with the rest of us and lurk for their next victim on dating sites in order to pull off romance scams. On some dating sites, as many as one out of 10 profiles is a scammer.
A romance scam is a con orchestrated in hopes of exploiting the characteristics of the human psyche, in this case, mishandling the kindness, co-dependence love, naivete neediness, or loneliness of another person. The confidence (con) artist feigns romantic interest in order to gain the potential victims affection and trust. Once they feel they’ve established a relationship, the scammer preys upon their goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims’ money, bank accounts, credit cards, or e-mail accounts or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Victims often feel that there is an equal balance of self-disclosure on profiles and emails. This perception of internet is what makes them unknowingly vulnerable. Scammers create and post profiles, using poached photographs of others and establish fake identities.
Readers Digest recommends a few common sense ways of not getting taken by a romantic ruse, either by a scammer or someone looking to carry on a dishonest relationship such as married but dating like they are single.
Don’t pursue long distance relationships. It’s best to stay local. Don’t reveal extensively personal information on online profiles or to potential suitors until you’ve met in person. It is tempting. Wait until you feel there is a genuine exchange of information and no red flags or inconsistencies first.
Google them. It sounds ridiculous, but you met them online; why not check them out online? Review information on romancescams.org. The site profiles con artists whom have taken advantage of others or tried. Those swindled, share extremely informative stories of how they were deceived out of their dignity and savings.
Upload pics or URL links to tineye.com. The site tracks where else the photo has appeared on the internet. Tested it, it works. If someone sends you a photo in an attachment, don’t open it. Doing so may allow a virus to infect your computer.
Be wary of premature, spontaneous proposals. Don’t fall for sudden hard luck stories where money is necessary to resolve them. Never wire funds to a stranger.
There are an increasing number of scams in which someone poses as a trustworthy soldier. According the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, the pretend heroes go as far as using the names, ranks, and even pictures of actual US soldiers. CID receives hundreds of reports from people worldwide of various scams involving persons pretending to be US soldiers serving in Afghanistan or somewhere else in the world. The victims are most often unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who think they are romantically involved on the internet with an American soldier when in fact they are being cyber-robbed by perpetrators thousands of miles away.
Chris Grey, Army CID spokesman, warns:
“We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the internet and claim to be in the U.S. military. It is heartbreaking to hear these stories over and over again of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone.”
Report suspicious behavior and fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection works for the consumer to prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices.