Beware of online dating scams

The following article and resources were provided by Linda Lee, founder and owner of Ask Me PC Web Design:

Beware of Internet dating scams

Since the 1980's one scam has raked in billions of dollars from its victims. It goes by many names but is most widely known as the Nigerian Scam. This scam has moved from postal mail to faxes, into today's incarnation using email.

The basic premise of this scam is you are contacted by someone who needs money advanced to them, but the hook is, you will get a huge return back, since it is only temporary until their millions are freed up. This scam always plays out to be a large convoluted story involving lawyers, family and some catastrophic situation like death of a family member who somehow seemed to have left a large fortune they just cannot access at this time.

Common names for this scam are:

  • 4-1-9 (former name of penal code for this scam in Nigeria)
  • Advance Fee Fraud
  • Nigerian Letter
There are so many variations on this scam it is impossible to keep track. The latest twist is targeting Internet Dating Sites where they prey on innocent people looking for companionship online.

A typical Internet dating scam goes like this:

  • Someone contacts you through a dating site.
  • They have a profile with photos (not real) and you respond.
  • You have a few emails back and forth and they gain your trust a bit.
  • At some point they will ask you for money.
  • The con artist may claim to be interested in meeting you, but needs cash to book a plane, hotel room, or other expenses.
  • You send the money, always using either Western Union or a Money Order.
  • The victim keeps getting strung along and eventually realizes they've been scammed when the con artist never shows up or just stops communication.
Here are some of the typical things you will hear from the con artist:
  • "My parent, (Dad or Mum) is sick in the hospital"
  • "I just need some money or plane fare to fly out and see you."
  • "I need an operation."
  • "My family had millions of dollars, they will get it released soon, and I need money to use now and will pay you back."
  • "My whole family died, and I am alone and want to move to the United States and be with you, send money."
  • "I have a daughter/son and sick parent, must leave the country fast, need money."
  • "I need money to buy a phone and phone you."
Signs of a Scam:
  • Any request for money
  • Anything that involves sending money to Nigeria.
  • Wants money sent using Western Union
  • Asks for Money Orders
  • Overdone flowery words: Dear, I be loving you, you are sweet, precious dear, etc. There are usually lots of "dears" in there.
  • Wants any bank information from you of any kind
  • Too much sickly sweet talk, and over the top romantic ideas
  • Will not answer your direct questions
  • Does not have any more photos of themselves for you to see
  • Will not give you a phone number, (though beware, some people have gotten phone numbers and talked to someone, but were still ripped off.)
  • Insist on talking to you through email or IM, not the phone
  • Uses bad grammar, spelling and speaks like a British Baron from the 19th Century. Uses British words like Mum, and odd formal language.
  • They ALWAYS have a dead person in their story, dead parent, wife, child, you name it.
One easy way to find out if you are in a scam is to do an Internet Search. Internet dating scammers often used the same names, family details and cover stories in multiple dating scams. Therefore, you may be able to expose a scam by conducting Internet searches on the names used by the scammers or key phrases from their emails and even the email address itself.

There is no one single Internet Dating site being targeted.

  • Yahoo Personals
  • Match.com
  • All faith based dating sites seem to be getting hit heavily due to a higher level of trust.
>> Read recent stories by people who have fallen prey to this dating scam

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED

You will not get your money back. Unfortunately, there is nothing the police or FBI can do. However, you should still report it to both places. Also, if you sent money using Western Union, report it to them. They cannot get your money back, but they need to know.

Warn other people, share it online and help educate others so they won't fall prey to these scams and scammers. The best prevention in the case of any of the Advance Fee or Nigeria Scams is to already know about them and how they operate. As long as people keep falling for these scams they will be around. Spread the word and help those you know not to fall for this scam! There are many variations on the basic scam and the one thing you need to know is they all involve sending money to someone.

NEVER pay anything up front for ANY reason. NEVER send money.

RESOURCES TO REPORT FRAUD AND LEARN MORE:

>> General information on dating scams
>> Secret Service Nigeria scam page
>> FBI Internet fraud and scams
>> Fraud aid
>> List of Internet scams, Justice Department

RELATED ARTICLES:

>> Three Defendants Sentenced in "Advance-Fee" Fraud
>> I crave your distinguished indulgence (and all your cash)

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