Courtesy of Member ThatGrrl
So you've got your profile on a dating site. You're browsing around, when you notice you've had a "wink" from someone. You have a look at who it is - wow... the picture's stunning, and the photo's so professionally done, too!! This gorgeous person has winked at you!
Scammers are notorious for prowling dating sites. They set up these fake profiles with pictures stolen from other sites, usually but not always modelling sites, to lure victims, and then, by winning the victim's trust and love, run the scam.
Here's how it works: after a few days (sometimes not even that long) the scammer will profess undying love to you - send you beautifully written letters and poems, and make you feel like the most special person in the world. They'll sometimes send you flowers and gifts, but these will be bought with stolen credit card details.
The period in between this will usually involve your new love going on a trip to somewhere in West Africa, either for business or to visit a relative among other reasons.
Then, having won your trust and love, a number of things can happen. They'll fall ill, have and accident, be stuck in a hotel with a bill to pay, need money for clothing, food, or any number of other reasons. All the while when they're asking for money, they'll use your feelings, emotions and good nature as weapons against you. Statements such as "if you love me you'll send money" and "If you don't send money my child will die" are common. They'll promise to give you the money back when they come to live with you happily ever after.
They will ask for money to be sent by Western Union or MoneyGram, both untraceable transfer services.
Either that, or they'll claim they can't cash a cheque (check) where they are, and want to send you it so you can cash it and wire the money back to them. These cheques will be fake or forged, and when the bank discovers this (which can be weeks or months later, due to the fact that the full cheque clearing system takes that long) you'll be liable to pay them back the full amount, and possibly be investigated for fraud.
Sometimes, Victims are being lured into being "mules" for parcels that have to be shipped to foreign countries, in most cases places in West-Africa. MSNBC's Dateline has made an interesting report
about it (click on the episodes 4,5 and 6 on the right side.).
But more than that, it's the emotional devastation that these individuals cause that can be so much worse than any monetary loss, however great that may be. Victims are left with great difficulty trusting others, depressed and in some cases suicidal.
By writing this, I'm not trying to scare anyone or put them off using dating sites. They are a good service and there are lots of good, honest, decent people like you on them. We just need to be careful when using them, so that we don't fall into a scammer's trap. Spreading awareness of how these scammers operate is a good way of helping to create less victims.
If you have any questions or concerns about someone you've met on a dating site, please visit our sister site, www.internet-love-scams.org
for more advice, information and tips on how to spot scammers.
Take care, and happy dating