TUCKAHOE, Westchester County -- The Tuckahoe Police Department is warning users of dating sites that scammers have been utilizing the services to commit bank fraud and steal from unsuspecting victims.
Officials said three incidents over the past eight months, two involving women from Queens and a third involving a woman from Connecticut, netted the suspect or suspects more than $15,000 and involved the site Plenty of Fish.
"He coaxes them into meeting, thinking that this is a real transaction," Tuckahoe police Lieutenant Larry Rotta said. "The victim thinks she is helping him out in the matter."
The suspect is accused of cultivating a trusting online relationship with the victims through a lengthy exchange of texts, pictures and e-mails. He reportedly tells the women that as a Chase bank employee, he could earn vacation days and bonuses if they open up an account with a $5,000 cash deposit. The women agree and set up their first face-to-face "date" at a Chase bank parking lot.
Upon arrival, the women call the suspect, who tells them he's swamped with work and that an intern will come out to the car to take the deposit to set up the account and that he'll be out in 10 minutes. Moments later, a woman wearing a Chase bank shirt emerges from around the corner and takes the cash and paperwork before heading back towards the bank.
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In reality, she is gone. And so is the money.
Authorities suspect all three incidents are connected, and they also believe there are other victims out there.
"At this point, we're telling any women who want to frequent a dating website that just know who you are talking to, have some communication," Rotta said. "But don't fall for any type of meeting in any kind of parking lot."
In fact, police say if you plan on opening a bank account, do it inside the bank, not the parking lot. Also, never provide your Social Security number, banking information or cash with a stranger. Lastly, follow your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
If someone you meet on a dating site is inquiring about your bank account or personal finances, use caution and be aware this may be a scam.
PlentyOfFish.com has provided more dating safety tips from its website.
The company released the following statement: "User safety and security is important to us at Plenty of Fish, and we aim to educate our users by providing safety tips on our apps and site. We advise our users to exercise caution when getting to know someone new, whether it's on a dating app, through an acquaintance, or any other social setting. We would like to locate and remove the account in question as soon as possible."
New York police warn dating site users of bank fraud scam