Battling Internet Dating Scams
While the majority of people who sign up to internet dating websites are genuinely looking for fun, love, flirting and friendship, there are unfortunately an ever-increasing number of scam artists who are attempting to cash in on this trend in modern dating. Any kind of scam is reprehensible, but there is something particularly sadistic and cruel about someone who takes advantage of another person’s trust, affection, and desire for intimacy, for his or her own financial gain. All internet dating scams are conducted with one of two possible aims in mind: to extort money from the legitimate subscriber, or to gain access to another country through marriage. Despite the increasingly vigilant and generally successful attempts of online dating agencies to prevent scammers from operating on their websites, a few scammers can still subscribe to dating services and gain access to innocent victims. Some of these victims have handed over huge sums of cash to their thieving ‘lover’ before they realize that they are being taken for a ride by a manipulative criminal, often not even the same gender as the fictional ‘lover’. So how can legitimate daters protect themselves from internet dating scam-artists? The number one rule is Know Your Enemy. If you know the scammers’ means of operation, you have a better chance of spotting one straight away. Here’s how it usually works: * The scammer posts a photo of an exceptionally sexy, good-looking young girl or man. (The photo is most likely taken at random from the internet.) * When you start conversing online, your new ‘lover’ is unusually keen, referring almost immediately to love, marriage, children. He or she tries to establish intimacy at once by giving you some pet name such as ‘Love Bunny’. * Your new ‘lover’ is keen to move your chats away from the internet dating site and to use some other IM service such as Windows messenger instead. This is to avoid detection by the dating site administrators. * Your new ‘lover’ has some elaborate reason why you can never meet in person. This is often a claim to be in military service, posted to some foreign, ‘secret’ location. * The ‘lover’ will claim to be, for example, British, but will show an ignorance of British culture, slang or traditions. * The ‘lover’, particularly if male, will allude to large sums of money that he hopes to bring soon into your country. However, it will transpire that he needs your ‘financial help’ to make this happen. * The ‘lover’ will ask for gifts, small at first, and often aimed at progressing your ‘relationship’, for example a web-cam so you can finally see this hot ‘girl’ in the flesh. If you send the money, ‘she’ will invent some reason why the web-cam does not materialize. * The gifts requested will become more elaborate: the air fare to visit you, hospital fees for a sick child, or money to resolve some other ‘personal issue’ that is keeping you apart. To avoid being taken in by a scammer: * View ANY request for money or gifts with extreme suspicion, even if you feel you know the person very well. * Never give your real home address or bank details. * Use a dedicated email address and mobile number so that you can cancel the account if things get out of hand. * Any initial date with someone you meet online should be conducted in a public place. * As much as you may not want to admit it, if someone seems too good to be real, they’re probably NOT real!