January 13, 2012

2012 is here already, and while some new agers are focusing on the Mayan spell of the end of the world by December 21, 2012, others are focusing on staying here for a long time, and living a safe life online and offline. With internet usage worldwide higher than ever in 2012, more users are now also finding love online, and more people are becoming victims of romance scams than ever before. The Better Business Bureau, the FBI and private investigators say the romance scam threat is real, and a growing problem for people in the United States and other countries.

It is a fact that sites like Match.com and Cupid.com are less than interested to conduct background checks on their subscribers and are more interested in their subscription fees. After all, a match making site is not in the private investigation business, and conducting dating background checks and verification is not their area of expertise. They could however outsource or partner with a reliable investigation firm. Despite rumors of a major online dating website or social networking site, such as Facebook or Match.com, to partner with a reputable international investigation company, such as Wymoo® International, so far there have been no such deals reached.

It is the users’ responsibility who they allow to enter into their lives. Right? Maybe. Many users have a false sense of security when they use a major social networking or online dating site, and they aren’t made aware of the risk or the warning signs.

A recent study conducted by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) determined that out of all the scams that are prevalent on the internet, none is more damaging to consumers than romance scams. The in online dating and initiating relationships on social networks is high, and users need to be aware of the risk. Websites should increase their privacy and warn users of the warning signs.

The FBI, Interpol and the BBB advise extra caution to avoid being scammed by a foreign person claiming to be someone else, as identity theft goes along with this fraud. As we can learn in this NBC video where a former victim shares her experience and talks about this fraud.  This can clearly be devastating.

The warning signs vary but include situations that seem too good to be true. People who quickly fall in love on line. Someone who reveals little about his past or current situation. Anyone who asks for money, for any reason. Someone who sends you suspicious emails or attachments. There are endless combinations of romance scams. The countries with the highest concentration of criminals conducting romance scams via the internet are Ghana, Nigeria, Philippines, Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the U.K., Romania and Colombia. But, experts say many criminals now operate from developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada, and the problem is now global, with no country or website immune. If it’s online, it’s at risk for scams.

International private investigators estimate that romance scams cost consumers worldwide over a billion dollars annually, and the number is expected to rise. Verify and then decide.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2012 S. Birch
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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, S. Birch, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as stated.