In today’s digital and busy world, online dating has become a popular avenue to find love. In fact, more than 49 million Americans have tried online dating.1 Unfortunately, scammers and criminals have also picked up on this trend and are making financial gains off of vulnerable online targets by creating fake profiles to lure in their potential victims.
In 2014, the Consumer Sentinel Network received 5,240 complaints about romance scams. 2 That same year the FBI’s Internet of Crime Complaint Center received additional complaints about confidence fraud/romance scams that totaled $86,713,003 in reported losses.3 Protect yourself from online romance scammers and avoid becoming their next victim by reviewing these simple tips:
- Only use online dating websites with reputable reputations.
- Do not leave the online dating platform for private conversations. Scammers like to remove the safeguards from reputable dating websites and go to IM services such as Yahoo and MSN.
- Ensure your security settings are correct on your online dating platform as well as your social media accounts.
- Recognize strong and quick pronounces of love in a short period of time – they are typically scammers.
- Never share banking or credit card information or send money via a money order, wire transfer of international funds transfer. Scammers will make up “emergencies” and “traveling expenses” to get you to fund them.
- Avoid personal web cam conversations and pictures with nudity as these can be used as blackmail. Be especially cautious if you are the only one using the web cam.
- Watch out for bad grammar and spelling, as this could be a sign of poor translation from an overseas criminal.
- Search names and photos on Google to check the authenticity of their identity.
- Report any potential scams to the online dating platform provider.
Online dating scams range from minor white lies to outright thievery. Trust your gut. If something sounds wrong or seems out of place chances are it is likely a scam. Pay attention to what is being said and how it’s being written. Look for any red flags and follow the tips above so you’ll be much more aware, prepared and ready should someone try and take advantage of you.
1. Statisticbrain Online Dating 2. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2014 3.FBI IC3 Annual Report 2014
Additional Sources: Federal Trade Commission & Federal Bureau of Investigation