Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites, and chat rooms to meet people. And many forge successful relationships. But scammers also use these sites to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love. Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money.
An online love interest who asks for money is almost certainly a scam artist.
How to Recognize a Scam Artist
The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:
• Wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM
• Claims love in a heartbeat
• Claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
• Plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour
• Says they’re out of the country for business or military service
What You Can Do About It
You may lose your heart, but you don’t have to lose your shirt, too. Don’t wire money to cover:
• Medical emergencies
• Hotel bills
• Hospital bills for a child or other relative
• VISAS or other official documents
• Losses from a temporary financial setback
Don’t send money to help someone after an apparent mugging or robbery, and don’t do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments could follow. In the end, the money could be gone, along with the person you thought you knew.
Report relationship scams to:
• City National Bank
• The Federal Trade Commission
• The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
• Your state Attorney General