Online Romance Scams

People are increasingly turning to the Internet to meet people, and criminals know this. While many dating services are reputable, not everyone who uses those sites should be considered trustworthy. Sometimes, scams can occur with you being defrauded by someone you think you know and trust.

Here’s how the scam usually works. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is emailed to you. For weeks or even months, you may chat back and forth with one another, forming a connection. You may even be sent flowers or other gifts. But ultimately, your new-found “friend” is going to ask you for money.

In addition to possibly losing your money to someone who has no intention of ever building a relationship, you may also find yourself unknowingly taking part in a money laundering scheme by cashing phony checks and sending the money overseas.

Recognizing an Online Dating Scam Artist

Your new online “friend” may only be interested in your money if he or she:
  • Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging
  • Professes instant feelings of love
  • Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something digitally manipulated or from a glamour magazine
  • Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas
  • Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event
  • Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization)
  • Coaches you on how to respond to others who ask you about monetary requests made to you
  • Requests you to open new financial accounts to allow for easy money transfer
  • Asks for your online financial account(s) passwords and usernames to check on your balances or make money transfers directly

If you suspect you have been financially scammed, save all correspondence with the scammer and report the issue to your financial institution.

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