By Justin Lavelle, BeenVerified.com
There’s nothing worse then investing both your heart and your money into what you thought was your next big love, only to find out he was a scam artist. Yet, that is exactly what is happening to many unsuspecting daters every year. Unfortunately, online romance scams are big business costing those looking for love money, time and often leaving them with a broken heart. What are some of the top schemes this time of the year?
- Don’t Open the FakeValentine’s Day E-Card—an online dating con artist may take a more secretive approach and email you a Valentine’s Day deal eCard with hyperlinks that cause a breach of your crucial identity info and contacts. Never open an eCard from someone who is courting you online or anyone else you don’t truly know. They may try to steal your personal info by pretending to sell you “gifts” like fake flowers and jewelry.
- Beware of the Catphisher—you might have heard about catfishing and questioned how others could be so naive, but remember that these online crooks are extremely cunning. Con artists dupe others into believing they are people they are not by devising dating profiles on accredited dating websites, via social media, and by emailing with the main goal of stealing money for fiscal gain. These appalling imposters trick others looking for a true, loving relationship (especially around Valentine’s Day) by professing their adoration early on and then asking their trusting victims to wire them money for a variety of purposes. Many of these scammers request money for a plane ticket to visit or for an emergency. Be wise and never send them monetary funds for any reason.
- Sextortion Can Leave You Exposed—a new online dating scheme has been coined “sextortion”, where a scammer convinces someone they are online dating to send intimate photos after establishing a phony online relationship. Then the schemer extorts money from the victim by threatening to publicize the intimate photos and videos. The duped victims usually pay out the money and keep the issue to themselves, as they are too embarrassed to tell the authorities. These shams can last for months on end and affect women, men and even senior citizens.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid being taken advantage of by these heartless scam artists:
- Is your date asking for money? Alarm bells should go off if the person you are chatting with asks you for money, especially if it is early on and if you’ve never had the chance to meet in person. Schemers will often request money to help take care of a sick family member, a short term loan to pay a monthly rent, or money to travel and visit you if they live in another state.
- Will your online love interest meet face to face? Con artists will use many excuses, such as work, a family illness, or shared custody of a child, as a way to not have to meet in person. Or, they will set up a date to meet and then cancel for a variety of reasons. It is smart to only accept messages from online dating matches who live close to you, as there is no good reason to establish a relationship with someone you will have a difficult time meeting in real life.
- Does your love match have a scarce online profile? If the person you are corresponding with has a dating profile with very limited info and only one photo, that could be a sign that you’re dealing with a swindler. Con artists who don’t want to be liable for the content of their dating profile will simply leave it blank. If they are too lazy to spend time posting truly self-descriptive content, you should probably refrain from corresponding with them. Also, be wary if the person has less than 100 friends unless he/she is older.
- Are little white lies harmless? A majority of people stretch the truth a bit, so determine what is acceptable and unaccaptable. Online daters want to show themselves in the best light possible, so men may say they are taller than they really are and women may not accurately describe their physical attributes. Many online dating site users accept white lies as part of the deal, so decide where to draw the line.
- Are you talking to a live human being? When corresponding with others online, ensure that the flow of conversation makes sense to confirm if you’re talking to a live person or a robot profile. Switch up the convo to determine if your correspondent is able to keep up with you. If they cannot switch gears, it is likely that you are talking with a robot responder providing predestined responses.
- Is key personal information verified? Conduct online searches to verify your match’s key information. If you’re especially troubled, you can use the help of a background checking service to confirm whether or not your suspicions are valid. This is a great way to see if your love interest’s name matches his or her photo, Facebook profile, etc. This will also help you discover if your suitor owns a gun, owes child support or is still married, or has financial difficulties or more than just a few speeding tickets.
Justin Lavelle is Communications Director at BeenVerified (www.beenverified.com/), your go to source to check whether your new online or in person date is who they say they are. Beenverified is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, property records and criminal records in a way that’s fast, easy and affordable.