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Dating via email

The website Scamalytics maintains a blacklist of scammers who use false pictures. You might not be able to surface information like criminal records, but from their social media profiles, Linked In page, and other information you find, you should be able to get a sense of whether what they are telling you comports with the facts. For example, if a person you met online claims to run a business abroad, call the U. Choose a friend or someone from your church or community who is less emotionally invested than you are. And remember: If the request for funds is indeed a scam, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to ever recover the money.

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These scammers tend to prey on victims that may be especially lonely, shy or isolated and therefore more vulnerable.(The FBI says it may be embarrassing for victims to report this type of fraud scheme because of the personal relationships that are developed, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can’t get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs Romance Scams, a watchdog site and online support group.According to a recent Consumer Reports Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says David Farquhar, Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI.Often, these online friendships blossom into genuine long-term relationships.An increasing number of people have found life-partners via relationships started online.There are a number of variations on the same basic scam.

In some cases the scammers may be the one to create a profile on a dating site and wait for a potential victim to contact them.

Just over a year ago, the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—had pleaded guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.

While the case was remarkable for its magnitude, when it comes to so-called “romance scams,” it still represents just the tip of the iceberg.

This makes it hard for the victim to do due diligence.

The scammer might say that an immediate family member has a medical emergency and needs money for treatment, or that he has been wrongly arrested and needs help with bail money and legal support.

According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.