Every month, more than 30 million Americans visit online dating sites in search for a potential date or life-long partner. As online dating numbers climb, a proliferation of online dating scams seek to separate online daters from their cash. Because of this, the FBI has issued a warning to spread the word – online dating scammers and criminals use online dating sites too. And they are targeting millions of online daters with a variety of scams.
The most typical of scams is being contacted by a potential interest who claims (sometimes immediately, sometimes later) that he/she is an American either traveling or working outside of the United States. They send photos, messages, emails, and sometimes even talk on the phone. Their goal is to develop a “relationship” with the user in order to effectively execute the scam. They communicate for weeks or months and when they feel the user is “falling in love,” the scam begins. An “emergency” will suddenly occur and they will need money from you. The scam is highly effective because they took the time to foster a relationship with the user before asking for money. Thus, victims find themselves thinking with their “heart” instead of their brain.
When a victim sends money, the scam continues. New “emergencies” arise and more money is requested. Thousands of people have lost their entire life savings to these effective scams.
According to the FBI, all online daters are at risk. However, the most common online dating scam target is women who are over the age of 40 and divorced.
There are several different types of scams. The FBI describes one of the most recent scams as follows:
“In another recently reported dating extortion scam, victims usually met someone on an online dating site and then were asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site, where the talk often turned intimate. Victims were later sent a link to a website where those conversations were posted, along with photos, their phone numbers, and claims that they were “cheaters.” In order to have that information removed, victims were told they could make a $99 payment—but there is no indication that the other side of the bargain was upheld.”
The FBI has issued the following advice to help recognize an online dating scammer:
The online dating scammer generally…
> Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;
> Professes instant feelings of love;
> Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine;
> Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;
> Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or
> Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).
Never send money to anyone you met online. The FBI says that your chances of getting that money back are slim to none.The most common online dating scam target is women who are over the age of 40 and divorced. Click To Tweet
If you think you have been the victim of an online dating scam, then be sure to file a complaint with our Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).
The FBI recommends using established and reputable online dating services.
The FBI has issued a warning to Americans about a proliferation of online dating scams, including a recent one that uses social media to hold user-provided information hostage…