Roses are red, violets are blue, watch out for these scams or it can happen to you
The adoption of online dating services, such as dating apps or virtual places to meet people, is a phenomenon that has occurred around the world. According to GlobalWebindexIn Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, dating apps and sites are around 45% accepted, while in the US and Europe it is around 28%.
Currently, more than 40% of single men have used a dating app or site in the past month, according to GlobalWebIndex. There are dozens of dating apps available; some operate globally, while others only work in certain countries that are more accepting of them. But without a doubt, two of the most popular apps among the many offers that exist are Tinder and Happn, which claim more than 50 million users each.
While these apps and sites have the potential to bring great happiness into the lives of their customers, there is also a darker side: crooks abuse these services for their own nefarious ends, causing grief that is both emotional. and financial for the victims of the crooks.
Multiple forms of deception
Although they come in different forms, in most cases the criminals who commit romance scams study the profiles of their victims and collect personal information, such as their professional activity, income level and lifestyle. , because the mismanagement of our personal information in the digital age allows a criminal to build a fairly detailed profile of a future victim.
One of the most common methods is the scammer who emotionally manipulates the victim to send them money, gifts or personal information. Another common type of deception is sextortion, which usually begins with a normal relationship between two people getting to know each other until the scammer tries to remove the conversation from the dating platform, like, for example , to WhatsApp. Here the criminal will try to convince the victim to send risky photos or intimate videos… then use this dirty material to blackmail the victim.
Last month, for example, in the United States, a man who has been the victim of this type of scam – he recounted an attack strategy similar to that of a case reported in Chile in 2018 – after meeting the person through an online dating site and gaining their trust, the scammer asked for intimate photos to be sent . Shortly after they were sent, the victim received a message from a man claiming to be the father of a minor and who threatened to press charges against him for sending an explicit picture to a child, unless he sends him two prepaid “money cards” with the United States. $ 300 each. The victim was told it was a hoax after contacting the police.
Another scam is known as’cat fishing‘, which lures the victim into a relationship based on the attacker’s fictitious online personality.
Online Dating Scams: A Global Phenomenon
In Australia, in 2018, 3,981 cases of online dating scams via social media and dating apps or websites were reported, resulting in losses of over A $ 24 million; and so far in 2019, 349 cases have already been recorded, with losses equivalent to over A $ 1 million, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reports.
In the United Kingdom, the The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) said in 2017, on average, every three hours there was a reported case of online dating fraud, while more recent figures from Action Fraud revealed that in 2018, more than 4,500 dating fraud complaints online were filed and estimated that 63% of victims were women, the BBC reported.
Cases from all over the world
A case in Spain made headlines when a man nicknamed the King of Tinder was arrested in 2018. Using techniques similar to other scammers, this criminal knew his victims through dating apps like Tinder or Meetic, he won their trust to the point that his victims sent him money after he told them stories of false issues related to his “family”.
Recently in Canada, the story of an elderly person who spent his savings then borrowed against his house as a result of an unearthed “romantic scam”. The 67-year-old widower who met a con artist claiming to be someone named Sophia Goldstein whom he met through online dating site Match. Soon after establishing a relationship, the perpetrator, who also claimed to be from Canada, began to seek financial assistance to solve various non-existent problems invented by the scammer. In a period of eight months before his death, the victim made a total of 19 bank transfers of over C $ 730,000 to an account in Malaysia.
Latin America is no stranger to such scams; in 2017, argentinian media published a scam using Tinder. After investigating several cases, they reported that the victims were contacted by someone apparently looking for a serious relationship, but living far away.
These reports explained that the same MO was used in these cases: the con artist introduced himself as an attractive woman, sent seductive photos of herself to the victim, and ultimately won the victim’s trust. The scammer asked for and received the victim’s phone number, then, once trust was established, convinced the victim to send the money with a promise to repay the “loan” once they got there. eventually met in person.
How to protect yourself
Users of online dating sites and applications should keep in mind that anyone can be cheated on. Here are some recommendations to remember.
- Look for inconsistencies; if you find any, be careful.
- Romance crooks tend to profess excessive romantic interest in their victims, and very quickly after “meeting” them.
- Scammers also tend to quickly try to move the chat from the platform or app to some other form of messaging such as email, Skype, or a secure messaging app. This prevents any fraud detection system used by dating services or applications from monitoring their attempts to defraud their victims.
- It is common that after a while (weeks or months) and after establishing some trust, the person you know tells you a very elaborate story that ends with a request for money, sending a gift or something similar. Never send money to someone you’ve met in an online dating scenario before you get to know them personally.
- Suspect someone who always has an excuse not to meet in person.
- Never share with the person you meet, especially if you do not know them personally, information that could compromise you, such as photos or videos, your address, workplace or phone number.
- If you decide to meet in person someone you’ve met online, be sure to hold the meeting in a public and safe place.