Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams

$200 million: The amount people were ripped off by online dating scams in a year.

1FDUI: dating while under the influence…of the quest for love…is costly to countless people.

A nytimes.com article notes that this quest impairs judgment, making it easy for con artists to bilk lonely people. Or are some people just plain stupid? But many victims are highly educated.

It all begins with a phony profile that grabs the victim’s attention. The nytimes.com report points out that the scamster uses attractive photos stolen off of other sites.

INTERRUPTION: If he/she is too gorgeous to be true, right-click the image to see where else it appears online! Is “Emilene McKenna” whom she says she is?

These scammers come from anywhere on the globe.

  • They prey upon loneliness, greed and desire.
  • Overseas scam rings
  • Solitary scammers working at home late at night
  • Women, not just men
  • They almost always profess to be in a glamorous or exciting line of work, though occasionally, they’ll pose as a more common person (perhaps to appear less suspicious).
  • People of all ages and walks of life, plus sexual orientations, are targeted.
  • The common denominator is a request for money.
  • Reasons for money requests run the gamut but usually focus on medical bills, legal fees or fees relating to a planned trip to meet the victim (which never occurs).

The nytimes.com article quotes victim specialist Debbie Deem that these con artists are skilled at mirroring the victim’s needs and creating “a sense of intimacy very quickly.” The victim soon becomes convinced that this is their soulmate—and thinks nothing of sending them the requested money.

However, the scammer may reveal their true colors after luring the victim into posing for raunchy photos or videos: The crook threatens to expose these unless the victim sends them money.

Other Facts

  • Being offered a spouse is a growing ruse.
  • Some victims have lost over $400,000.
  • Significant contact from the scammer lauding the victim.

How to Protect Yourself

  • If you haven’t already figured that out after reading this article…I’m very worried.
  • In addition to right-clicking the photo, copy and paste the profile’s narrative into a search engine and see if it shows up anywhere else like on an unrelated person’s blog or another dating profile under a different name.
  • NEVER SEND MONEY! Think: They’ve gotten this far in life without your financial help; they’ll survive without it.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Seniors targeted for Online Dating Scams

The 80-year-old spent $500,000 on his new girlfriend—whom he’d never met. The online romance began with an e-mail (from supposedly a dating service) from a young nurse in Ghana who said she would take care of him. Then requests for money followed. The man’s son believed that the “nurse” was likely a male con artist.

1FAnother case involved an 81-year-old man whose caregiver, whom he met through a dating site, wrote $80,000 in checks from his account.

Online dating scams affect all ages, but seniors in particular are vulnerable due to their loneliness and sometimes compromised mental state.

Some tips:

  • Seniors should enlist support from several people they can trust, to advise them whenever they are conducting financial transactions of any kind.
  • If a loved-one is being scammed, do everything possible to prevent that person from traveling to visit the alleged love-interest. Because really, there isn’t anyone to travel to.
  • Be suspicious of someone who’s falling in love with the elderly person so quickly.
  • Be suspicious if the love-interest suddenly needs large amounts of money.
  • Be suspicious if the love-interest’s photo looks too perfect (this suggests it’s a fake).

All people should be on guard for online dating scams.

  • Use only well-known websites.
  • Seek referrals from friends who’ve met legitimate partners online.
  • Avoid posting personal information in your dating profile.
  • Seek information about potential dates elsewhere online to see if it matches up.
  • Report any potential dates to the website if they ask for money.

Dating sites should incorporate device identification, device reputation and risk profiling services to protect users from scammers.

iovation, Inc., offers ReputationManager 360, the world’s leading device reputation service, protecting more than two billion online dating activities and flagging 2.7 million fraudulent activities.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247

Summer Heat: On-line Dating Scams PT II

After my recent post Summer Heat: On-line Dating Scams a reader responded with the following:

“I just had a similar experience that you described in your blog “Summer Heat: On-line Dating Scams”. I had joined Plenty of Fish and upgraded my profile to have more exposure. I received an email from “exquisitedaddy” a few weeks ago. We started sending emails back and forth. Then he asked me to IM on Yahoo Messenger.

His IM email address was groovyromance@yahoo.com. The name he used was Joe Reid. He escalated the relationship quickly telling me how I was the one and only and how he loved me. then on 6/26 he asked me to buy him a Blackberry Bold for $450. I told him I didn’t have the money. The next day, 6/27, he told me his bank had contacted him and that a hacker had stolen $20k from his account. His account was frozen but the bank would reimburse him the money, he just didn’t know when. So he needed to buy networking equipment to complete a huge project he was working on for Nova Engineering Place. When he finished he would be paid $800,000 and have to paid 10 employees 40k each. But he needed $8k now to buy this equipment.

He said I shouldn’t worry because he would pay be right back either when the bank released the hold on his account or when he was paid for the project. I told him I didn’t have the money. I asked him questions about why others couldn’t help him and he always had an excuse. When I asked him if I used my Amex to buy the equipment, would that work he said no he needed cash! I said I would look into it but wouldn’t call him unless I found an answer since he was so stressed. Yesterday, he left a VM message for me asking me why I hadn’t contacted him and he was hoping that I was still looking to help him with the money and that he loved me.

I would like to do anything and everything in my powers to get this person so that he cannot abuse other women. Do you have any advice on what my next steps should be? He sent me flowers on Saturday, should I contact the florist and try to follow the trail back through there? thanks. Linda”

Wow Linda, you dodged a bullet. Linda sent me the picture of a handsome man who probably doesn’t know he is being used for a scam. She also found his profile on Match.com too.

No matter who the person is, what they say, how they look, don’t automatically trust.

The moment money or loans are discussed in any capacity that is a red flag.

Don’t let your heart get in the way of basic common sense.

Sometimes loneliness trumps our ability to see the truth. Keep your head up and pay attention to someone’s “intentions”.

Robert Siciliano is a Personal Security Expert and Adviser to Intelius.com. For more information see Intelius at Sex Offender Check and Date Check to reduce your chances of encountering a bad guy. See him discussing Safe Personal Dating on Tyra. (Disclosures)