Famous online dating scams
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If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get. When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. To be sure, these scams aren't new. But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate. There are no statistics saying just how common scammers are on dating sites. But individuals who frequent them say scams are pervasive. Indeed, many sites warn their customers to beware.
Let's leave the site: Online dating sites have the ability to monitor and boot members who exhibit problematic behavior or are perpetrating scams, so con artists want to quickly move their victims elsewhere. Beth Kipps, who has experimented with several dating sites, says the men who have attempted to con her almost always have a reason why they shouldn't continue to communicate via Match.
Most commonly, the excuse is "My membership on this site is almost up. Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you'll report the crook to the relevant site. That's important to the con artist, who'll want to troll the site again for future victims when done with you. Do your fellow legitimate members a favor and be sure to report abusers.
Budgyk, 56, doesn't suffer for a lack of confidence, but he also knows something is amiss when a model half his age just can't get enough of him.
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If a year-old model is contacting a year-old man, there's something wrong. Scammers look for vulnerable populations -- women and men in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime.
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They're also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses. Any of these issues might make you a bit more anxious about your ability to find love and potentially more receptive to the con. The crook will then lavish you with attention and flattery. The idea is to get you to suspend good sense and become enamored with someone you've known online for just a few weeks and have never met in person. Kipps has decided that another tip-off is photographs that show all the trappings of wealth -- exotic cars, mansions, pictures in romantic foreign settings.
Of course, real people sometimes have nice things and go to great places, but these visual cues are key to scammers who want to get your guard down for their future bid for cash. By fabricating an illusion of their own wealth, scammers may be able to convince you that you're simply "loaning" them money that, for some weird reason, they can't immediately access.
Where do the scammers get photos of themselves in these exotic locations and with these costly products?
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They troll other sites and steal other people's photos. Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. He found out when he discovered his photos were on a romance scam site warning about the same Nigerian crook who had stolen his photos.
Morrison says she realizes that photos posted by her one-time suitor were also fakes. She now examines photos of everyone who contacts her to see if she can match them in Google images to a real person. She's often surprised at what she finds.
Bad grammar, strange word choices and linguistic gymnastics are other signs of a foreign scammer, experts say. When reading an email, ask yourself whether the sentence structure strikes you as strange. If it does, ask lots of questions. Where are you from? Where were you educated? If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can't string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious. It's rare for a scammer to meet you in person.
The reasons are varied but practical. Many are operating out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. Commonly, when the victim proposes an in-person meeting, they'll come up with some excuse for why it can't happen: They're traveling, stationed overseas or have some long-distance emergency. Kipps says her worst experience was with a man who claimed to be a widower raising his five-year-old daughter.
Just as they were about to meet, he had a sudden emergency and had to fly to the Philippines, where his daughter was supposedly staying with a relative. Sometimes, it may be wise to dig deeper. For example, if a person you met online claims to run a business abroad, call the U. Embassy to confirm that the business exists. If you are asked to send money and feel so inclined, run the whole scenario by someone you trust. Choose a friend or someone from your church or community who is less emotionally invested than you are. Be open to their perspective. If the request for funds is indeed a scam, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to ever recover the money.
Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed. In our online dating survey, 12 percent of people say they were conned. Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this email. Send We respect your privacy. Oops, we messed up.
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Their worry is not overstated. Romance scams really can happen to anyone. Have you been hurt by a romance scam? Tell us in the comments below. To recognize and avoid romance scams, follow these tips. Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers.