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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Online Romance
May 10, 2011
Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
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Online RomanceBe wary of romance scams in which scammers target people who search for companionship or romance online. Someone you know may be "dating" someone online who may appear to be decent and honest.
However, be forewarned: the online contact could be a criminal sitting in a cyber café with a well-rehearsed script that scammers have used repeatedly and successfully. Scammers search chat rooms, dating sites, and social networking sites looking for victims.
The principal group of victims are over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled, but all demographics are at risk. Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their "undying love." These criminals also use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes.
Scammers also ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing. These are all lies intended to take money from unsuspecting victims. In another scheme, scammers ask victims to receive funds in the form of a cashier's check, money order, or wire transfer, claiming they are out of the country and unable to cash them or receive the funds directly. The scammers ask victims to redirect the funds to them or to an associate to whom they claim owes them money.
In a similar scheme, scammers ask victims to reship packages instead of redirecting funds.
In these examples, victims risk losing money and may incur other expenses, such as bank fees and penalties, and in some instances face prosecution. Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, injured, or deceased. Victims most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers. If you are planning to meet someone in person that you have met online, use caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country, and, at the very least:
• Do not travel alone
• Tell other people your plans
• Contact your Embassy in the country you plan to visit
Even though it seems to be contrary to the thought of starting a new romance, do not be afraid to check a new acquaintance's story online. Remember, like most fraudulent schemes, scammers use whatever personal information you provide to quickly paint themselves as your perfect match.
If your new friend’s story is repeated through numerous complaints and articles on the Internet, it is time to apply common sense over your feelings.
If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other Cyber crime, you can report it to the IC3 website at: www.IC3.gov. The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identity emerging trends and patterns.
Remember - always watch for scams!
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