It’s already the middle of January, with February and Valentines Day looming on the horizon. For those who are single or alone, it can prove to be a trying time. At this time of year many people find themselves turning to social networking or dating sites to try and make that special connection with a new friend or life partner.
A good number of people have been fortunate in finding their special someone via online romance. Unfortunately though, for a large number of folks, their attempts to find a loving companion has actually introduced them to a callous predator who preys on their heart and scams their cash.
The Better Business Bureau has named online romance scams as one of their top ten scams of 2012, and with good reason.
Through a social networking or dating site you will virtually meet the person (the criminal). Your online romance scammer will create a relationship, sometimes spending several months in building a rapport online with the intention of making you feel that you are in a romantic relationship.
But, that person you met online turns out to be a criminal who typically says that they are in a far away country, and that they eventually want to meet you (the victim) in person.
Around this time, the criminal will note that they can’t afford to travel, and will seek assistance from you in covering travel costs. Sometimes there’s an emergency, a sick family member for example, and that they need financial help from you to visit the sick individual.
Of course, the requests for help are all a scam and the money wired by you (the victim), often in very large amounts, is now in the hands of the criminal.
What are the warning signs of a romance gone wrong?
Someone claims to have fallen in love with you quickly through a virtual connection. That person wants to immediately leave the dating site to use instant messaging or email. They claim to be from the U.S. or Canada, but they are working overseas. They’ve asked you for money, or to cash a cheque. They are coming to visit you soon, but an event prevents them from visiting. They have no close family or friends to turn to when they need help.
Don’t let yourself be fooled. If you use online dating sites be aware that criminals have access to them to. Stay smart and keep your heart and your pocketbook in one piece.