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Victims—predominantly older widowed or divorced women targeted by criminal groups usually from Nigeria—are, for the most part, computer literate and educated. And con artists know exactly how to exploit that vulnerability because potential victims freely post details about their lives and personalities on dating and social media sites.Trolling for victims online “is like throwing a fishing line,” said Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Houston Division who has seen a substantial increase in the number of romance scam cases.“The perpetrators will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target.
Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance was a farce.
We’ve compiled a list of the typical stories and red flags from online dating scams.
We encourage you to read through this list before engaging with anyone on the app.
The FBI says romance scams are rampant online, with an estimated 0 million in losses last year. "If you get a million results for it, chances are it's some kind of a stock photo," Hood said.
"Even in the last decade, so many more people meet other people online for the purpose of dating," said New York attorney Jonathan Hood, who has written extensively on internet fraud. Of course, the best way to tell if the person you are dealing with is real is to meet in person. "If they say, 'I'm not ready to meet you in person,' or 'I want to continue just chatting online,' that could be trouble," Hood said.
Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.