Online dating money
In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.While the case was remarkable for its magnitude, when it comes to so-called “romance scams,” it still represents just the tip of the iceberg.And if you’ve been communicating with someone by email, check their address at a site such as romancescams.org, which compiles lists of email addresses belonging to known scammers.The website Scamalytics maintains a blacklist of scammers who use false pictures.“There was one woman who got scammed for over a million dollars, her whole retirement nest egg,” says Farquhar.The CR survey found that 35 percent of respondents who’ve tried online dating felt they had been grossly misled by someone’s online profile, and 12 percent said they’d been scammed.
If you are asked to send money and feel so inclined, run the whole scenario by someone you trust.Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. (It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can't get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.According to the Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.