The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has claimed in recent days that the economy in Europe is looking worse for 2013, with growth estimates lowered down 1.2%, because of companies letting go employees in an attempt to remain in business. Germany, the strongest economy in Europe will remain as it is now, stable but not growing in the coming year. With unemployment and economies struggling to recover, many internet scammers are doing well, and targeting victims when they least expect it, and when they can least afford it. More are seeking a way to avoid the risk.
Year after year the world of romance scams is getting stronger. Internet criminals no longer only operate from developing nations like Russia, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines. Today’s more sophisticated romance scammers may operate from right down the street, in the UK, Canada, Australia or the U.S. No country is immune from the fraud, although the above countries tend to have the highest concentration of internet criminals conducting internet scams.
It is not only in dating sites that people can find friendship, love or deception. Facebook in the past couple of years has become a leading source to connect people around the world. In fact, there are some sites offering applications in the network to connect with possible sweethearts. Whether Match.com or Facebook, the risk of meeting a con artist is a real and present threat.
Experts recommend people looking for love online to stay skeptical and avoid revealing much personal data or private information to anyone they’ve never met in person. Watch out for red flags and listen to your instinct. Stay on the sites and communicate there, rather than via your personal email. If you decide to meet in public, do so in a very public place. Be skeptical of anyone working or traveling or living overseas, and remember it’s easy to fake a profile or identity online.
Romance scams can be devastating and leave victims in financial and emotional ruin. For some, the nightmare extends to real life with financial loss, identity theft and more. International private investigators solving internet fraud cases claim that in the past few years, the risk of abducting victims has become part of the modus operandi in West Africa and the Baltic Region. Experts urge all online dating and social networking users to never travel abroad to meet your online partner without first having the subject verified via a professional dating background check.
Intuition plays an important part when relating over the internet. If you feel attracted to someone and feel you can meet, do not do so immediately. Give it some considerable time before the first encounter is scheduled. Use an alternative email, Facebook offers email accounts to their users, try it and avoid compromising your personal email. Do not provide strangers with your phone or mobile number. You can try setting up an anonymous Skype account to protect your privacy and make free internet calls to anyone you meet online. When in doubt, consult a professional.
All the best,
© 2012 S. Birch