Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FBI Tips for Recognizing an Online Dating Scam

The FBI says that the latest report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center reinforces the fact that people looking for love online need to remain vigilant about who they choose to communicate with and how they do so.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center has recently received reports regarding a scam that baits individuals into intimate online conversations and then extorting them for financial gain.  The scam was initiated after the victims met someone online, such as on a dating site, and were asked to connect via a specific online social network. 

Shortly after, the conversations became sexual in nature.  Later, victims received text messages, either containing their names, asking if it was them or containing a statement that indicated their names were posted on a particular website.  The victims were provided a link to a page on the website that claimed they were a “cheater.”  Photos of the victims and their telephone numbers were also posted. 

There was an option to view and buy the posted conversations for $9. Victims were also given the option to have their names and conversations removed for $99. Some were even told that once the payment was made, the information would be removed within an hour and the website would not allow anyone to post anything pertaining to the victims’ names again. 

However, reports do not indicate that the information was ever removed. 

 FBI Tips for Recognizing an Online Dating Scam Artist

Your online “date” may only be interested in your money if he or she:

- Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;
- Professes instant feelings of love;
- Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine;
- Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;
- Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or
- Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).
One way to steer clear of these criminals all together is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations.

Internet victims can file a complaint here.