Through online dating
Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
And if you’ve been communicating with someone by email, check their address at a site such as romancescams.org, which compiles lists of email addresses belonging to known scammers.
The website Scamalytics maintains a blacklist of scammers who use false pictures.
In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled 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.
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 US Embassy to confirm that that business exists.
In 2015, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than 0 million this way.
(It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, 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 romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.
According to the Consumer Reports 2016 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 Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.
Run a search: Copy the images your online correspondent has posted to his or her profile, then run them through a reverse-image search engine, such as Tin Eye or Google Images.
If they come up associated to a person with another name or who lives in a different city, you have good reason to suspect they were stolen from someone else’s profile.
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Experts say online daters are always wise to be skeptical regarding what someone they've met online, and not in the flesh, tells them.