Valentine’s Day is a day for sweethearts and lovers. It can be a lonely time for many who yearn for romance. These people often turn to online dating. There are many successful relationships formed as a result, but online dating comes with its share of dangers. The FBI reports that victims of romance scams have tripled in just five years, from 4,476 to 14,546.
Scammers prowl social media for their victims. They use the victim’s personal information to lure them into their traps. Scammers hide their true identity through the use of fake profiles that have been stolen from other online dating sites and social media, thus creating another victim of this crime. Their premeditated actions will leave the victims emotionally and financially broken.
Most Likely Victims
- The most likely victims are women (82%), and most of those women over the age of 50 are defrauded out of their money.
- Someone who has fallen for a scam is likely to be victimized again.
- Someone who has suffered a bad life event such as a death, abuse, divorce or job loss.
So how do you know the difference between love and looting? Here are some key warning signs that should make you think twice before revealing your private details.
- Scammers will try to lure you into private chats.
- Their profile on the dating website or social media page might not match what they are describing to you.
- At some point they will implore you to send them gifts and money. The messages will become desperate and persistent if you waiver.
- They don’t keep their promises and make excuses why they can never meet you face to face or video chat.
- They tell you not to share your relationship with your family and friends.
- Don’t send money to someone you have never met in person.
- Check out if this person is who you think they are. Google them!
- Watch for spelling and grammar errors.
- Don’t share personal pictures or videos. These can be used against you in a blackmail scheme.
- If you think you may have fallen victim to a scam, report it to the online dating site, your bank, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI.