He or she arrives in your inbox as a pretty face. They seem innocent and are just looking for love or a new friend. You met them on Facebook or Match.com, and everything should be ok. Why not try? It might turn into a meaningful friendship or more. He or she might even live or work abroad, so what could possibly be the risk in finding a new pen pal? The answer: a lot. Romance scams are becoming increasingly complex, and are growing into an organized crime ring in many countries. Criminals are targeting websites of all kinds, from Linkedin, to eHarmony to Facebook and countless others. Their goal is to establish a relationship, gain your trust, and steal your money and/or identity. And they are very good at what they do. International private investigators are working to reveal these scams.
Long distance dating has been around for a long time. Pen pals are now online chat partners, and the new and improved version carries a lot more risk. People used to write long letters allowing others to get to know them better. These days, the approach has changed dramatically, and short emails and profiles and photos are the selling point. And even if we do happen to find a profile you like, how can you be sure the person in the photo truly is who he or she claims to be? He says he’s a vice president for Airbus and is currently working in Germany, and graduated from Harvard, and has a home in New York. Sounds great, but is it true? Her photos are amazing, and she seems so perfect. You’ve been talking to her for 6 months and she’s never asked for a dime, and you’ve seen her on webcam, but is she real?
International background companies like Wymoo® International and the FBI say that romance scams are not going away. In fact, they are getting worse. FBI field offices receive complaints nearly on a daily basis involving romance scams, and the effects can be devastating and can even lead to financial ruin and major heartache. Romance scammers and criminals operating on the internet are learning what methods work and don’t work. Their objective is to get the information they need to blackmail you, steal your identity, or scam you the old fashioned way, and simply ask to borrow the money for an urgent matter. Experts say for any online dating or social networking relationships that is international in nature, and shows signs of a potential meaningful relationships, a dating background check is key.
People want to relate to new people with a different culture because they find it more appealing and interesting. Also, societies have become more competitive. Long work hours leave little time for meeting someone outside, so why not try the internet? Modern love happens online in an electronic world. And, the pretty face of a vulnerable person from a developing country is always there for you… how could that be a bad thing? So sweet and caring… until the bait and trap is set, and the trust is won. Once the trust is won, the criminal has complete the hard work. Getting your personal information like your full name, address (to send you flowers) and your birth date (to send you a gift) will be a piece of cake.
The cold and hard truth is that roughly 10% of online dating relationships are true and honest, with no misrepresentation or falsification of the facts. The other 90% can range anywhere from partly truthful, somewhat truthful, to a complete fraud and romance scam. Some subscribers even say they lie about things to protect their identity online. Online dating and social networking is a confusing world, with potential rewards. Investigators simply emphasize the importance of knowing the risks.
All the best,
© 2011 S. Birch