Protect Yourself from Internet Dating Scams; Personal Contact Matters!
Internet dating scams abound. The virtual world creates an ideal environment for predators to find vulnerable prey. They can post a fake picture, say whatever they want in their profiles, and then manipulate sensitive people in order to get what they want - and often that end goal is money.
We recently posted a blog about Internet Dating Scams that are hosted by perpetrators in foreign countries, South Africa and Nigeria being two of the most popular home bases for these scams to be located. However, there are plenty of scams that take place right here on U.S. soil. Case in point: The United States Army just issued a warning regarding cyber-criminals who are using fake U.S. Army and military officers "looking for love". Their victims end up date-less and with an empty bank account and the fake profile conveniently disappears. The common thread that binds the large majority of internet scams: the victims and their perpetrators never meet in person.
Men and Women May be Equally Vulnerable When it Comes to Internet Dating Scams
In the South African and Nigerian examples we listed above, women are the most typical victims. However, that is not always the case when it comes to the internet dating scams involving money, products or services. In fact, men may even be more vulnerable at times based on the societal assumptions of chivalry and old-school traditions that state the man always pays for the woman.
According to the FBIs 2011 report regarding Internet Dating Scams, or Romance Scams (as they title it), there were 5663 total complaints from men and women who had been scammed by prospective online romantic partners. Of these 5663 victims of romance-based internet scams, 31% were men. However, we suspect that men may feel more embarrassed regarding their vulnerability, and therefore opt not to report the scam to authorities.
Here is a shocking statistic: The average dollar amount that was taken by the internet dating scammers from their vulnerable - and now heartbroken - victims was a whopping $8,900!
Avoid Becoming a Victim of an Internet Dating Scam
Here are some ways you can avoid becoming a victim of an internet dating scam:
- Be thoughtful about what you disclose. Don't share all with the first person who professes his or her love online. Internet dating scammers are experts at biding their time, being patient, and learning all they can about their victims in order to expertly manipulate them. Keep personal details to yourself until you have met your online date in person, and have a chance (or two, or three) to get a more personal read on him/her.
- Be wary. Be wary of sob stories, personal drama, or sad tales of woe. It's not that bad things don't happen to good people, but we are not in a position to be in a functional relationship with another person until we have our own affairs in order. Their tale of woe might be a big, huge line of hogwash, designed to tug at your heartstrings and win your sympathy.
- Meet in person ASAP. Consider the average dollar amount handed over from a victim to an internet scammer; it was close to $9000, which means online dating scams are a lucrative business. If your online partner is real, and is feeling the same connection you are, he or she is going to want to meet in person as soon as possible. The whole idea is to find a mate, right? However, if they are a scammer, they will have endless supplies of excuses, calamities, and deceased relatives' funerals to attend, which will keep them from ever being able to meet you. This is a sure sign it's time to move on to a profile of someone who is more available.
- Never give someone money. Would you ever ask someone you knew online, but had never met in person, for money? Would you expect someone who had never met you to give you money? Would you want someone who loved you to expect you to give them money? Hopefully, your answers to all of those questions are, NO! Adults need to learn to take care of themselves before they can be in relationship with another human being. Period. A self-respecting adult who cares about you will NEVER ask, expect, or allow you to give them money. If they ask, don't give it. And, never ever offer it. If they back out of the relationship as a result, don't feel bad. That's your sign that they were a fake and/or a horrible person. End of story.
A California Private Investigator Will Get to the Bottom of Internet Dating Scams
Want to find out for sure whether or not you are being taken for a ride? Mike Garroutte, owner of Linked Investigations, has worked as a California private investigator in Los Angeles and Orange Counties for more than 30 years. Using a complete background check and surveillance services, he can find out whether the person at the end of that internet connection is the real deal or a fraud.