You may encounter more than possible companions, soulmates, and spouses when searching for dates online. Felons exploit matchmaking websites, chat rooms, and social media channels to scam money from lonely, vulnerable singles, warns the FBI. Many foreigners living abroad pose as Americans overseas temporarily. Typical targets include widowed, divorced, and disabled women over 40, but all demographics are at risk.
Most dating scams involve men pursuing women. Actions signaling cyber sweetheart fakers follow these patterns:
Con man Conner contacts you via a dating site, seemingly for a romantic relationship. His web profile and picture are appealing. A close connection forms while chatting online for weeks to months. Conner spoils you with flowers or presents.
Eventually, he’s short on funds and asks for help. Just once? Why not? Unfortunately, only your repeated monetary gifts can resolve Conner’s ongoing financial difficulties. Since he can’t cash checks overseas, he sends them your way so you’ll wire money to him. Conner’s next request entails forwarding packages to him.
Spoiler alert: A criminal targeted you. He found your personal and contact information online. Conner crafted his phony profile to be an irresistible match for your posted interests. He stole a handsome model’s image off the web.
Falling for his sympathy scam, you financed a crook who never intended to date you in person. And unknowingly, you participated in Conner’s money-laundering con. Cashing fake checks, transferring funds abroad, and shipping packages of stolen merchandise are illegal.
When you meet grafter Griffin on a dating site, he wants to move your discussion to a specific social network. Flirtatiously, he flatters you into a more intimate conversation.
Later, Griffin sends you a website link that identifies you a cheater. He posted your suggestive talk, photos, and phone number. Your $99 payment is necessary for him to delete his embarrassing exposé. But Griffin offers no assurance that he’ll uphold his part of that agreement. Once again, a swindler posing as a tempting match used your online contact details to bilk money out of you.
If you suspect a crook is impersonating a love interest, run a confidential ID True background check on our secure web portal. It will uncover public records from local to federal levels, giving you the true picture.
The results will help you measure your online charmer’s honesty to see if he’s who he claims to be. His address history will confirm or disprove the recent relocation he mentioned. Protect yourself by logging in now to discover if any supposedly decent suitors actually are felons with criminal records.
Should you believe you’re an online dating scam victim, file your complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). An initial analysis will detect similarities between targets to identify culprits and safeguard web users. Then IC3 forwards your encrypted data to appropriate entities. Federal agencies including the FBI along with state and local authorities investigate some extortion cases, especially ones with high victim counts, large monetary losses, and organized crime involvement.
Catfish Swindling Rackets
Imposters construct elaborate online schemes to gain your compassion and money. These red flags could indicate catfish are luring you:
- Claim to be U.S. citizens on short-term personal or business trips in distant countries
- Profiles of so-called Americans use awkward dialect and foreign spelling
- Photographs resemble slick magazine styles
- Physical attributes aren’t proportional like 90-pound weight and 6-foot height
- Facebook and Twitter accounts have few photos, friends, and followers with social networking and matchmaking profile dates coinciding
- Urge you to exit the introduction website where you met to exchange personal emails or instant messages
- Unwilling to speak via Facetime or Skype
- Ask lots of questions but avoid answering yours
- Profess their love too quickly
- Request money to cover various expenses like medical emergencies, family hospital bills, travel costs, hotel charges, official documents such as visas, or monetary losses from financial setbacks or thefts
- Cancel plans to meet you in person due to tragic events
To avoid scammers:
- Use dating sites with trustworthy national reputations
- Reserve a separate email address for singles sites
- Choose services with remailers or anonymizers masking your actual email
- Don’t share personal contact details like home and work locations, phone numbers, and email addresses
- Never send money to online admirers through wire transfer services. Your recovery odds are slim.