Scams targeting people who use online dating websites and social-media sites are on the rise—and very profitable for the scammers. In the second half of 2014 alone, online dating scammers robbed Americans of an estimated $82 million. Both men and women are targeted—and often the victims are seniors.
Scammers might ask victims for financial support during a fabricated emergency…or for help with travel costs for a visit that eventually will be canceled…or to deposit a check for them and send them the cash (the check will bounce).
Five red flags that your “date” may be a scammer…
He/she claims to be an American who is temporarily abroad. In one common variation, the scammer claims to be in the military temporarily deployed overseas. A scammer wants his/her victims to believe that the scammer’s permanent residence is close to the victim’s so that the victim can imagine a life together. But most scammers actually are based in foreign countries—western Africa is the most common location.
You notice strange language quirks. These scammers often speak and write English very well, but they might not be familiar with expressions common in the US. One woman noted that her “American” beau seemed confused by the expression “See you later, alligator.”
His/her photo matches someone else’s. Scammers pass off other people’s photos as their own. Load any pictures you have of this person into both TinEye.com and Google Image Search, then click the camera icon in the search bar). It’s a very bad sign if these sites find these images elsewhere on the Internet with someone else’s name on them.
Video chats never work properly. Perhaps the sound works but not the picture when you try to video chat with your new love interest…or perhaps the picture works but not the sound.
You are asked for money and/or to engage in unusual banking activities. If someone you have never met in person is asking for these things, you almost certainly are being scammed.