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Teen Tragic Love: Lesson for Parents?

This story is kinda dark. Recently the ID Channel ran an episode called “Forbidden: Dying for Love — Together Forever, Forever Together.”

The 19-year-old was Tony Holt. Let’s call his 15-year-old girlfriend Kristen.

Kristen, 14, Falls Hard for Tony, 18

She met him when he was working at a grocery store. But he also happened to be a senior at her new high school. Prior to meeting him, Kristen knew her mother wouldn’t allow dating till she was 16.

Kristen’s mother eventually learned of the secret relationship and forbad it. The girl and Tony kept seeing each other on the sly. Mama learned of this and again, forbad it. Kristen then pretended the relationship was over and even talked of how she now hated Tony. Her mother was thrilled.

Meanwhile the teens kept sneaking around.

Forbidden love can be funner! Anyway, Mama found out again, stormed into the grocery store and angrily announced to Tony that if he ever went near her daughter again, she’d have him arrested for statutory rape. Which, is in fact statutory rape in many states.

The threat had him really scared about going to prison. He appeared at Mama’s house soon after and apologized for upsetting her and said that he and Kristen were going to cool it and just be friends.

But they continued seeing each other, and Mama discovered photos in Kristen’s bedroom of the two making out. More furious than ever, she forbad any contact. (Kristen’s father was out of the picture.)

Not long after, she got a call at work to come to the house. The police were there. Tony and Kristen were both dead from a gunshot wound to their heads.

A suicide note left by Kristen explained that the only way they could be together was to die and go to heaven where they could live happily ever after. Kristen had also left a suicide message on the answering machine, apologizing for the suicide pact. I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. Neither did I.

Questions to Wonder About

  • Why didn’t the teens decide to just avoid sex for three years, after which they could then marry and have up to 70 years of glory together? Abstinence is hardly an extreme move when you pit it against a murder-suicide.
  • What if Kristen’s mother permitted the relationship and even had Tony over every week for dinner? But what if, at the same time, she expressed her disapproval over their sexual relations?
  • What if she had said, “If you get pregnant, you’ll be grounded – by your baby. I won’t report statutory rape, but I also won’t help you out with the baby, either.”

That last warning may sound harsh, but it’s a crapshoot type of warning: It just might work.

Lessons Learned

  • You can’t stop two love-struck teens from seeing each other, so you may as well be civil to the unapproved young man.
  • While it’s important to stand your ground as a parent, there also comes a time when a sweet spot needs to be figured out. After all, not only might there be a suicide pact, but there are quite a few documentaries in which the forbidden young man murdered his girlfriend’s disapproving parents.
  • It’s never too early to teach your children the virtues of delayed gratification.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

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.

Beware of ALL these Scams

Scams targeting older people are probably very under-reported, as seniors don’t want to appear senile. The most vulnerable group is educated men over 55, because, quite frankly, they think they know everything.

9DSweepstakes/Lottery

  • This scam comes in many forms, but the common denominator is that you’re requested to pay a fee or taxes.
  • A legit sweepstakes or prize event never requires payment.

Kids/Grandkids Need Money

  • The scammer relies on the odds that the randomly-called senior has trouble hearing.
  • The scammer says, “This is your favorite grandson!” Invariably, the victim announces the grandson’s name. The scammer takes it from there, convincing the victim to send money.

Home Repair

  • A man in a worker’s uniform, complete with company logo, appears at your door, offering to do some service. They may actually perform it, but will overcharge and/or not complete it.
  • Others are there only to case your home for a future robbery.
  • A legitimate company does not go door to door.

Cyber Help

  • A call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or some other tech giant, claiming your computer has a virus, is a scam.
  • The scam includes background noise that sounds like a busy call center.
  • This scam is also conducted via e-mail.

Dating

  • Never give money to someone you met through an online dating service.
  • If they sound and look too good to be true, they probably are. A sudden sob story in which they desperately need money is a cue for you to run for the hills.

Uncle Sam

  • Through a phone call or e-mail, you’re notified you owe back taxes or that a refund is owed to you (and you must pay a fee to get it). SCAM!
  • The crook can make the caller ID look like the IRS.
  • The caller may threaten to have you arrested or pose as a sheriff.
  • If you owe or are owed, the IRS will always snail mail you.

Ugly Baby

  • You’re approached by a woman while you push a stroller. She says your baby/grandchild is ugly.
  • While you react to this, her accomplice pick-pockets your purse.
  • Distraction scams can come in many forms.

Investments

  • A call out of the blue from an “investment advisor” is very likely a scam.
  • Seek financial counseling only from a reputable service.

Identity Theft

  • Never give personal information over the phone unless you called that company (and say, want to purchase something).

POA

Never give power of attorney to someone you know only casually or without a lawyer to review the document.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Seniors big Target for Romance Scams

Janet N. Cook, 76, was duped by a dashing younger man. A report at nytimes.com explains that in July 2011 she connected with Kelvin Wells via a dating site.

1FNext thing, this seemingly-together man was in trouble and needed lots of money. Cook got burned; she sent the crook nearly $300,000 (amazing; just try to get a friend to give you $100).

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center warns:

  • If that wonderful man (or woman) sounds too good to be true and speaks poetically, e.g., “We were meant to be together,” run for the hills.
  • If they claim they love you, can’t live without you, etc., come on, this should turn you OFF, not ON.
  • Be suspicious of those claiming they’re originally from the U.S. but are now overseas or are entrenched in some heavy business or family situation.
  • Be leery of those insisting, very early on, that all communications be done via e-mail, phone or instant message (to avoid detection by the dating site).
  • If they claim they need you to send money for their travel expenses to meet you, make like an airplane and drop the bomb on them.
  • Older women are typical targets due to their accumulated wealth.

It’s a numbers game for these smooth-talking scammers. They keep hunting ‘til they find that lonely, vulnerable victim, usually a woman living by herself who becomes enthralled at all the gushy e-mails and phone calls from Mr. Dashing. He may have told his sob story to 500 women just to land one victim, but for $300,000, it’s time well spent.

According to the IC3, about 6,000 people reported such scams between July 1 and December 31 of 2014.

Is this $300,000 an anomaly? The nytimes.com article tells of a woman in Pensacola, Florida who gave her swindler $292,000.

Victims aren’t necessarily uneducated. The article cites Louise B. Brown, a nurse from Vermont, who’d been scammed. Brown, 68, met Thomas on Match.com. He was about to leave for Malaysia (typical story; originally from the U.S. but currently living in or about to travel to a foreign land—HUGE red flag!). She sent Thomas $60,000 and ate up her savings. These guys must be good; where do they find such vulnerable victims?

Really, the rule is simple: If the guy asks you for money, drop him. End of story. But by the time these clever crooks tell you they’ve been robbed by bandits in a remote Southeast Asian village, the victim is already under his spell—but there were warning signs before even that happened (see above bullet list).

It took only three weeks for Betty L. Davies of Georgia to fall under the spell of Donald Leo Moore. Davies, 62, gave him a whopping amount of money after he claimed he’d been robbed while in Malaysia. Then his chemical engineering project ran into trouble and she gave him $20,000. He then needed $30,000 thanks to Singaporean officials. Total money lost: nearly $300,000.

“Script” of the Scammer

  • Build victim’s trust
  • Create sense of urgency

If Mr. Dashing has any of the aforementioned traits, immediately report him to law enforcement, even if you know the truth: That your lent money is gone forever.

Prevent Getting Scammed

  • I’m going to play psychologist here and ask you why you’d want to get involved with a man who travels. Think of all the hardships this would bring to a relationship. One of the common denominators in scammers is that they claim they’re overseas or will soon be going there.
  • Psychologist again: Lower your standards. MUST he have a glamorous job like international relations, foreign road construction or cruise ship engineering? MUST he type and speak like a poet? Swindlers will present themselves as very accomplished and above the common man.
  • MUST you equate constant attention from Mr. Dashing with compatibility and honesty? Cook was hooked by Kelvin’s constant attention.
  • MUST you travel to the Bahamas and Bermuda to be happy? Brown’s scammer promised her trips there.
  • Right-click on the man’s profile image to see where else online it shows up.
  • If his verbiage sounds canned, paste it into the search engine to see if it appears on romance scam sites.
  • Immediately alert the dating site when a suitor asks for money.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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

Cybercriminals Target Senior Citizens

Cyber scams happen to the young and the old, the rich and the poor. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your credit is, or whether or not you have a credit card. Cybercriminals target everyone, regardless of how much or how little you rely on a computer.

The lowest of the lowlifes, however, tend to prey upon the weak and uninformed. And all too often, that means children or elderly.

Senior citizens are in a unique position because they often have money in the bank, plus access to additional lines of credit. They are less likely to be frequent Internet users, relative to younger generations, and are therefore less likely to be aware of the many scams that may be targeting them.

Many common scams take place using the telephone rather than the Internet, such as “grandparent scams,” in which victims receive calls from their supposed grandchildren, requesting money.

Online, beware of social media and dating scams. Not everyone who contacts you online is your friend, so be cautious before sharing personal information. Never, under any circumstances, should you send money on the basis an online relationship.

You’re most likely heard the term “phishing,” and have certainly received a fake email at some point. But scammers are getting better at creating targeted, personalized emails that include your name, email address, and even stolen account numbers. Never click any links within an email. Instead, go to your favorites menu or manually type the address into the address bar. If you suspect that an email might not be legitimate, hit delete.

Scammers are constantly searching for the information they need to take over your existing accounts, either by hacking into your own personal computer or by stealing data from your bank, credit card company, a government agency, or any other institution that keeps personal data on file. To prevent account takeover, keep your antivirus software updated, and pay close attention to all your bank statements. Refute any unauthorized transactions right away.

Bad guys love your Social Security number, because they can use it to open new credit accounts in your name. You’ve probably disclosed your Social Security number hundreds of times in your life, and can’t avoid disclosing it in the future. But you can protect yourself with identity theft protection and a credit freeze.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss how to protect yourself from identity theft on CounterIdentityTheft.com. (Disclosures)