Looking to start a new relationship? For some, that may mean meeting a new love interest online. Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites, and chat rooms to meet people. And many forge successful relationships. But scammers also use these sites to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love.
He found out when he discovered his photos were on a romance scam site warning about the same Nigerian crook who had stolen his photos. Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting. Do your fellow legitimate members a favor and be sure to report abusers.
Could she help? Though the amounts and details of the scam vary from victim to victim, when it comes to romance scams, the con is almost always the same: The crook wants to get a besotted victim to wire money or provide access to a credit card. By fabricating an illusion of their own wealth, scammers may be able to convince you that you're simply "loaning" them money that, for some weird reason, they can't immediately access.
They troll other sites and steal other people's photos. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. Indeed, many sites warn their customers to beware.
When reading anask yourself whether the sentence structure strikes you as strange. Sh'reen Morrison had been on an online dating site for only a few weeks before she realized that something was seriously wrong with the man who had been actively pursuing her by text message and. They don't. Commonly, when the victim proposes an in-person meeting, they'll come up with some excuse for why it can't happen: They're traveling, stationed overseas or have some long-distance emergency.
Has an online love interest asked you for money?
He needed money for a hotel. It's rare for a scammer to meet you in person.
Trappings of wealth. Of course, real people sometimes have nice things and go to great places, but these visual cues are key to scammers who want to get your guard down for their future bid for cash.
Morrison says she realizes that photos posted by her one-time suitor were also fakes. She's often surprised at what she finds. By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.
6 red flags for online dating scams
Chrome Safari Continue. Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you'll report the crook to the relevant site. Most commonly, the excuse is "My membership on this site is almost up. Linguistic anomalies: Bad grammar, strange word choices and linguistic gymnastics are other s of a foreign scammer, experts say. If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get. Kipps says her worst experience was with a man who claimed to be a widower raising his five-year-old daughter.
Be the first to know.
When she declined, the messages got more desperate. There are no statistics saying just how common scammers are on dating sites. Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. Immediately after Kipps' date left for Manila, she started getting text messages about the emergency that sent him overseas.
Scammers look for vulnerable populations -- women and men in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime. Where were you educated? Where do the scammers get photos of themselves in these exotic locations and with these costly products? Geographic challenge. But meeting in person was always a problem.
When Morrison suggested that her suitor put his daughter on a plane to get better medical attention at home -- and even offered to pick the girl up at the airport -- a new crisis struck. Many are operating out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby.
They'd hit it off right away, and he said he lived just outside of Phoenix, which seemed relatively proximate to a woman in remote Yuma, Ariz. The crook will then lavish you with attention and flattery. That's important to the con artist, who'll want to troll the site again for future victims when done with you. But individuals who frequent them say scams are pervasive.
The reasons are varied but practical. Let's leave the site: Online dating sites have the ability to monitor and boot members who exhibit problematic behavior or are perpetrating scams, so con artists want to quickly move their victims elsewhere. Any of these issues might make you a bit more anxious about your ability to find love and potentially more receptive to the con.
The idea is to get you to suspend good sense and become enamored with someone you've known online for just a few weeks and have never met in person. The ending came as no surprise to experts on romance scams. Then the daughter became ill and had to be hospitalized. Kipps has decided that another tip-off is photographs that show all the trappings of wealth -- exotic cars, mansions, pictures in romantic foreign settings.
His daughter had been in an accident, he said. To be sure, these scams aren't new. If it does, ask lots of questions.
Watch out for romance scams
When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. Budgyk, 56, doesn't suffer for a lack of confidence, but he also knows something is amiss when a model half his age just can't get enough of him. He sent heart-wrenching photos of a young girl, who appeared to be his daughter's age, hooked to a raft of medical monitors.
Beth Kipps, who has experimented with several dating sites, says the men who have attempted to con her almost always have a reason why they shouldn't continue to communicate via Match. First, he was traveling through India with his daughter. He was at the hospital.
They're also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses. Just as they were about to meet, he had a sudden emergency and had to fly to the Philippines, where his daughter was supposedly staying with a relative. Where are you from? If a year-old model is contacting a year-old man, there's something wrong.
Be realistic. Uncertain of whether she should believe the man, Kipps Googled "photos of sick children.
But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate. If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can't string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious. Distraught, he said he left his wallet in the cab.
Says Kipps: "What kind of horrible person does something like that? Disaster strikes.
She now examines photos of everyone who contacts her to see if she can match them in Google images to a real person.