The number of cases in which internet dating scams have robbed unsuspecting internet users of hundreds of million dollars is on the rise despite several cases being in the public domain.
Towards the end of the month of December of 2017, the US department of Justice made public the record of Nigerian and South African citizens who were found guilty of conning colossal sums of money from American through online dating sites.
While these cases have enlightened many people, there is still a number of innocent people who continue to lose their money on such sites. Naturally, human beings are social beings and are always looking for someone to spend their time and life with.
The advent of the internet has widened the scope of socialization and the need for friendship with people outside one’s country has placed many people at risk of losing their hard-earned cash through online dating scams.
According to the FBI, romance scams cost consumers more than $200 million in 2015, noting that this amount could be far too high considering that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their cases to the authorities.
A survey conducted by the Consumer Report indicated that of the 114,000 respondents many of whom were subscribers to online dating sites, 46 percent were still skeptic of being conned.
While many online relationships have yielded marriages and successful relationships, many of these have resulted in frustrations and anguish. Romance scams can happen to anyone, so you need to know a few tips on how to avoid being scammed.
First, you need to perform due diligence before you commit your time and money on some of these sites that claim to link people searching for their soul mates.
Many people think that middle-aged women and men who are unable to find a date are the only victims of these scams, but evidence suggests that even corporate officers, lawyers, and doctors of all ages have fallen prey of these scams.
So you need to know that scammers start by building confidence and trust through consistent communication over weeks or months before they can finally craft a final strike against their suspecting victims.
According to FBI cybercrime experts, this gives the victim a false sense that the person is real and genuinely in love with him or her.
Just be Paranoid
According to the survey conducted by Consumer Report, 35 percent of respondents who tried these online dating sites felt they had been severely misled by the profiles of their supposed friends while 12 percent said they had lost money through this trick.
It is wise to be skeptical about someone you are meeting online, as this will help minimize the risk of engaging a wrong person.
It is worth noting that most dating sites, including those that charge a fee for membership do not perform a thorough check of the people who sign up.
Therefore, it is critical that you vet the person against what he or she says in the profile. Here are more tips on how to recognize and avoid being scammed online.
Run a Search
Do not get trapped in a scam so easily. Start by performing a search about the image posted by your would-be friend. Copy the image of the person and run it through a reverse-image search engine of your choice.
Google Images and Tin Eye are some of the sites you can get the truth about your correspondent. Be keen to see if the results are associated with a different person or a person whose residence is different from what you can see on the profile.
You can also check their addresses on romancescams.org, which has a list of email addresses of some of the notorious scammers. A site such as Scamalytics has a list of scammers who’ve been blacklisted for using false picture.
Interrogate the History of the Correspondent
They say a little stalking of the person you are dating goes a mile to unraveling the truth about your “friend”. Do this by searching the name of the person into Google or any other search engine and see what results come out.
While you may not get classified information such as criminal record but you can dig into their social media profiles such as LinkedIn and Facebook to get the sense of who they really are.
You may also call the Embassy to determine if the business he or she claims to run exists. Time comes when the fraudster asks for money under the pretense that they have an emergency.
If you are asked to send money, be sure to consult a person who has not invested emotionally such as a friend in the church. Let them share their views and do not let your emotional drive you into losing your money to mail order bride scams.