On-line dating sites have become popular to millions of people as a way to meet and find love. However, lonely hearts can be seduced into scams on the internet. Opportunists appeal to the victim’s romantic and compassionate sides. An on-line article from NBC News stated that on-line dating site fraud increased 150 percent from 2010 to 2011.
On-line dating sites will ask the user to set up a profile and attach a photo. Scammers will use the site to create very attractive sounding profiles and attach a gorgeous profile picture. Frequently the profile is fake and the picture is right out of a magazine. The scam is initiated after the victim has met someone on-line. Their on-line match might provide a lot of personal information up-front to gain their trust. They might send the victim a gift and shower them with affection. The victims can’t believe their luck, that they have found the one for them. The relationship can take months to progress or move very fast.
It is common for the scammer to request moving future contacts from the on-line dating site. They will suggest communicating through e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging or even through the telephone. They will indicate that they want to meet and if they are far away, pretend that they have booked a flight; however they never come. Once trust is gained, they ask for money, gifts or personal information. The scammers appeal for money usually relates to a hard luck story, such as a financial hardship, ill family member, need to help a child or other family member or the need to cover their travel expenses to come and meet the victim. Sometimes the victim is sent a counterfeit check to cash and requested to send the money to the scammer, because they are not able to negotiate the check for some reason.
Individuals using on-line dating sites should look for the following warning signs:
People should take steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim through on-line dating sites. They should:
If you victimized by an on-line dating scam. File a report with your law enforcement agency, the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov and the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. The District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Line can be reached at 720-874-8547 if you have questions or need assistance.
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