It can be embarrassing to feel tricked into thinking you’ve formed a relationship online, but if you tell us we can take a report in confidence. In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.
According to the Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.
“That big investment gives victims a false sense that the relationship must be real.” Eventually a pitch for money comes.
Fraudsters may also use the conversations you have to find out enough personal information about you to commit identity fraud.
They’ll ask innocent-looking questions about you that make it look like they just want to get to know you, such as your date of birth, home address or family background.
Alternatively they may prey on your sympathies, telling you a family member or someone else they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.
Once you send them money, the fraudsters will keep coming back and invent new reasons to send them more.
The CR survey found that 35 percent of respondents who’ve tried online dating felt they had been grossly misled by someone’s online profile, and 12 percent said they’d been scammed.
Experts say online daters are always wise to be skeptical regarding what someone they've met online, and not in the flesh, tells them.
They may have arranged to visit you, but need money to pay for the flight or visa.