$200 million: The amount people were ripped off by online dating scams in a year.
DUI: dating while under the influence...of the quest for love...is costly to countless people.
A nytimes.com article notes that this quest impairs judgment, making it easy for con artists to bilk lonely people. Or are some people just plain stupid? But many victims are highly educated.
It all begins with a phony profile that grabs the victim's attention. The nytimes.com report points out that the scamster uses attractive photos stolen off of other sites.
INTERRUPTION: If he/she is too gorgeous to be true, right-click the image to see where else it appears online! Is "Emilene McKenna" whom she says she is?
These scammers come from anywhere on the globe.
- They prey upon loneliness, greed and desire.
- Overseas scam rings
- Solitary scammers working at home late at night
- Women, not just men
- They almost always profess to be in a glamorous or exciting line of work, though occasionally, they'll pose as a more common person (perhaps to appear less suspicious).
- People of all ages and walks of life, plus sexual orientations, are targeted.
- The common denominator is a request for money.
- Reasons for money requests run the gamut but usually focus on medical bills, legal fees or fees relating to a planned trip to meet the victim (which never occurs).
The nytimes.com article quotes victim specialist Debbie Deem that these con artists are skilled at mirroring the victim's needs and creating "a sense of intimacy very quickly." The victim soon becomes convinced that this is their soulmate-and thinks nothing of sending them the requested money.
However, the scammer may reveal their true colors after luring the victim into posing for raunchy photos or videos: The crook threatens to expose these unless the victim sends them money.
- Being offered a spouse is a growing ruse.
- Some victims have lost over $400,000.
- Significant contact from the scammer lauding the victim.
How to Protect Yourself
- If you haven't already figured that out after reading this article . . . I'm very worried.
- In addition to right-clicking the photo, copy and paste the profile's narrative into a search engine and see if it shows up anywhere else like on an unrelated person's blog or another dating profile under a different name.
- NEVER SEND MONEY! Think: They've gotten this far in life without your financial help; they'll survive without it.