The online dating sites have become a very popular way of getting to know people from different countries that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet. The anonymity of the online world has given rise to a lot of scams that could potentially harm you and your pocket if you are not aware of the possibilities.
Sadly there is a multitude of people using the dating sites to try and convince people to part with money. They sign up with a fake identity, including fake photographs then begin to make contact with people, mostly women. They are friendly for a short while, asking about you and your circumstances but never reveal anything much about themselves at first, usually until they find out if you could be a potential victim of their sophisticated scams. Then, when you think that they are just starting to tell you about themselves, the sob stories start. The variations are endless. Here are a few of the typical ones.
- “I’m working in [wherever] and have been mugged and I don’t know how I’m going to get home”
- “I would love to come and meet you but I don’t have the money for a ticket”
- “I need some money to help me until I get paid at the end of the contract”
- “My mother/brother/father needs urgent medical treatment”
- “My laptop has been stolen and I won’t be able to keep in touch with you”
These scammers take the time to set up their prospect. They will chat online for weeks, maybe even months before they actually ask for money. A UK woman was ‘friend’ with a guy for around 8 months and they had spoken on the phone about 3 times a week before the scammer asked for money. Apparently, his son needed urgent medical care for a potentially terminal condition. She was certain that this man was a genuine friend so she sent him money. She never heard from him again!
If your friend seems OK, still don’t take any chances. If they ask for a phone number, find a call box that will take incoming calls and give them that number, better still, ask for their contact number and ring them from a call box. There will be a hundred reasons why they can’t give you a number! Never give your personal details to anyone.
When beginning a friendship online always set up a new email address so, if you begin to get the spam or scam emails, you can close it down in an instant.
Never, ever send money to anyone, however, plausible the reason sounds. It is almost always from someone who spends their time preying on the good nature of others to try and steal their money.
Remember, if anything sounds a bit odd or if it sounds too good to be true, stay away and end the conversations. You could save yourself a lot of money and heartache.