Internet dating hoax

Enter a search term. Home Types of scams Listen. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information Related news From the web. Identity theft Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits. Inheritance scams These scams offer you the false promise of an inheritance to trick you into parting with your money or sharing your bank or credit card details. Don't friend a scammer this Valentine's Day. Making a Western Union refund claim. Victims scammed via Western Union may get refunds.

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Then, this message appeared when she logged on to her account. How are you doing today? Thank you so much for the email and I am really sorry for the delay in reply, I don't come on here often, smiles I really like your profile and I like what I have gotten to know about you so far. I would love to get to know you as you sound like a very interesting person plus you are beautiful. Tell me more about you. In fact it would be my pleasure if you wrote me at my email as I hardly come on here often. He gave a Yahoo email address and a name, Duane.

Some of the other men she'd met on Match had also quickly offered personal email addresses, so Amy didn't sense anything unusual when she wrote back to the Yahoo address from her own account. Plus, when she went back to look at darkandsugarclue's profile, it had disappeared. Your profile is no longer there — did you pull it? As I am recalling the information you shared intrigued me. I would like to know more about you. Please email me with information about yourself and pictures so I can get to know you better.

Duane wrote right back, a long message that sketched a peripatetic life — he described himself as a "computer systems analyst" from North Hollywood, California, who grew up in Manchester, England, and had lived in Virginia for only five months. But much of the note consisted of flirty jokes "If I could be bottled I would be called 'eau de enigma' " and a detailed imaginary description of their first meeting:. It's 11 am when we arrive at the restaurant for brunch.

The restaurant is a white painted weatherboard, simple but well-kept, set on the edge of a lake, separated from it by an expansive deck, dotted not packed with tables and comfortable chairs…. Amy was charmed — Duane was nothing like the local men she'd met so far. And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general. She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.

I think it is always best to be whom we are and not mislead others. By December 17, they had exchanged eight more emails. Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status. Amy clicked on the link to the song, a torrid ballad that ends with the singer begging his lover to marry him.

Then she rolled it back and listened to it again. It's an ancient con. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances. In pre-digital times, romance scammers found their prey in the back pages of magazines, where fake personal ads snared vulnerable lonely hearts.

But as financial crimes go, the love con was a rare breed, too time- and labor-intensive to carry out in large numbers. It could take months or years of dedicated persuasion to pull off a single sting. Technology has streamlined communication, given scammers powerful new tools of deceit and opened up a vast pool of potential victims.

As of December , 1 in 10 American adults had used services such as Match. The mainstreaming of online dating is a revolution in progress, one that's blurring the boundaries between "real" and online relationships. But the online-dating boom has also fueled an invisible epidemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission FTC , complaints about impostor ploys such as the romance scam more than doubled between and And that figure is probably low, because many victims never report the crime — or even tell their closest friends and family members that it occurred.

San Diego woman falls for online dating scam, local FBI reveals alarming romance scam numbers

Shame, fear of ridicule and the victim's own denial enforce this contract of silence. The power of the romance scam — its ability to operate undetected and to beguile its victim into a kind of partnership — lies here, in the gulf between what the victim believes and what is actually happening. Outside the scam, it's almost impossible to explain such irrational behavior. How on earth could you hand over your life savings to a stranger you met on the Internet, someone you've never even seen in real life?

When Amy talks about how she fell in love, she always mentions his voice. It was mesmerizing — musical, clipped, flecked with endearing Britishisms. His writing was like this, too — not just the British-style spellings of words such as "colour" and "favourite," but the way he dropped "sweetie" and "my dear" into every other sentence.

They exchanged numbers and began talking every day. His teenage years in Manchester explained the accent, but there was another sound in there, too, a wisp of something she couldn't place. They spoke of the things you talk about at the beginning of a relationship — hopes, dreams, plans for the future. She opened up about her marriage, her grief, her work, her faith and her conviction that things happened for a reason. Amy had never met a man who was so passionately curious about her. And she was just as fascinated by Duane. Or was it Dwayne? In his early emails, the spelling seemed to switch.

She found his LinkedIn profile — it was short, with just a few connections. There were other curiosities.

Examples of What Online Dating Scammers Say to Trick You

Amy felt they were in some kind of time warp. She would be fixing breakfast and he'd be talking about going out for the evening. He traveled a lot for his work, he said. Almost casually, he explained he was calling not from Virginia but from Malaysia, where he was finishing up a computer job. Looking back, would things have been different if he'd said he was in Nigeria?


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Amy knew all about those people who posed as Nigerian bankers and gulled victims with awkwardly phrased "business opportunities" over spam email. But this was different; Amy loved to travel and knew lots of people from overseas. The fact that Dwayne was living in Malaysia added an exotic note to his "eau de enigma. A former "Yahoo boy" shows how teams of con artists fleece victims from Internet cafes. Born in neighboring Benin, he and his family moved to Nigeria during his childhood and went looking for opportunities in the emerging economic powerhouse of Africa's most populous nation.

Instead, he found "the game" — Nigeria's shadow economy of scams, named for the article in the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud. Enitan is not the scammer Amy encountered in ; his fraud career ended in , he says. Since he left scamming, he's spoken out against the practice.

But based on his account, the fraud playbook he followed has not changed. He agreed to talk on the condition that he would not be identified by name. Typically, scams are advance-fee frauds — variations of the age-old "Spanish prisoner" gambit, which promises riches to unsuspecting strangers in exchange for a modest payment. Sent first as printed letters, then as faxes and emails purporting to be from Nigerian officials, these offers are now part of Internet lore.

Indeed, they're so well known that ers have adopted a more effective variation — mining dating sites for targets of romance scams. Impostor scams can flourish wherever the Internet exists Eastern Europe and Russia are also hot spots , but most dating fraud originates in Nigeria and Ghana, or in countries such as Malaysia and the U.

In fast-developing parts of the world with high unemployment, a large percentage of English-speaking young men, and a postcolonial legacy of political instability and corruption, playing the game can be a tempting way out. That's when he drifted in with the legions of other young Nigerian men known as Yahoo Boys, named for their preference for free Yahoo. He learned the con from an older mentor, and he, in turn, passed on his skills to younger friends.

Enitan describes a three-stage model. Using stolen credit card numbers, the scammer would flood dating sites with fake profiles. Victims can be found anywhere — scammers also forage for connections on social media — but dating services provide the most fertile territory. Profile photos are pirated from social media or other dating sites. To snare women, he'd pose as older men, financially secure and often in the military or in engineering professions. For male victims, he just needed a photo of an alluring younger woman: All his victims, Enitan says, described themselves as divorced or widowed.

Ideally, the prospective victim makes the first move. Grooming the victim begins in the second stage. After learning everything he can about his target, he would launch a campaign of love notes and gifts. It feels like the universe is manifesting my perfect partner right before my very eyes. Prayers answered and yes it does seem like we have known each other a long time.

Amy wrote that seven days after receiving the first message from Dwayne. They were on the phone for hours every day at this point. His was the first voice she heard in the morning, and the last before bed. Typically, Amy would talk and text with him until about 11 a. In their emails, they filled pages with minutiae about their lives — her upcoming holiday trip to Sarasota, Florida, with a girlfriend; his visit to a textile museum in Kuala Lumpur.

Mixed amid this were Dwayne's increasingly ardent declarations of affection:. Last night, in my dreams, I saw you on the pier. The wind was blowing through your hair, and your eyes held the fading sunlight. Florid passages like that did not spring from Dwayne's imagination. He cribbed them from the Internet. Still, on Amy those words cast a powerful spell. That's how she thinks of it now — it was like a switch flicked in her head.

She'd been in love before. But this was different, a kind of manic euphoria. Will you appear someday. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 6 references.

The wikiHow Tech Team also followed the article's instructions and validated that they work. Scam Online Dating Conversation. Understand the driving principles behind scamming techniques. Scammers typically try to find people who seem vulnerable e. Once a scammer makes a connection with a victim, they will request money for an emergency e.

You can avoid the bulk of online dating scams by establishing a hard rule about not sending money to anyone you haven't met in person. Know that anyone can fall victim to a scam. While middle-aged widowers have traditionally been targets for online fraud, no online dating user is exempt from being targeted by scams on an international scale. Look for typical scammer behavior. While no two scammers are identical, nearly all dating scammers will exhibit several of the following behaviors: Review the person's profile.

Common scammer profiles are modeled differently depending on whether they are male or female, but you'll usually see several of the following attributes if the person is a scammer: Note any age difference in which you are the older one. Online dating scammers usually target people older than themselves. Check their photo for duplicates. Save a copy of their profile photo, then upload it to Google to search for other instances of it.

If you see several other sites with the photo pop up in the results, then you know that—at the very least—they're not using their own photo.

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If you do determine that they're not using their own photo, consider calling them out. This may reveal more suspicious behavior. Look closely at their side of the conversation. When communicating, scammers' messages will be full of inconsistencies, often getting their own name or your name wrong.

These messages may be badly written or repeat themselves. Watch for these other signs: Their command of language deteriorates with time. They may even start out having no clue about grammar or punctuation. They make mistakes in that their "story" begins to contradict itself.

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Alternatively, they never provide any personal details about themselves. They mention things that seem entirely unrelated to the profile they've built up of themselves, or that seem too revealing and even unbelievable. Ask them to meet up. Scammers will never meet you in person, and they will usually express reluctance to do so when asked.


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  8. If the person with whom you're talking either outright refuses to meet you or bails on your plans multiple times in a row, they're most likely a scammer. Alternatively, the person may ask you to pay for their ticket or means of transportation. Ask to contact the person via video or voice chat.

    Examples of What Online Dating Scammers Say to Trick You

    If the person isn't willing to meet up, consider asking if you can contact them at their number never your own or via a voice- or video-chat app such as Skype. If they agree to this, pay attention to their tone and use of language; if their demeanor seems to contradict what you know about them, it's best to walk away. Again, if the person outright refuses to talk to you over an audio or video connection, they're most likely a scammer.

    Watch out for the catch. When scammers think they have you on their hook, they attempt to reel you in. This is usually when they will "agree" to meet up or talk to you, but their plans to do so will usually be interrupted by a financial emergency. As a general rule, if the person to whom you're talking asks for money in any context, they're a scammer.


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    Don't fall for phrases like "For this to work, we both have to trust each other" or "I thought you loved me"; this is a form of emotional manipulation. Keep your profile as private as possible. One of the first steps in making your profile scammer-proof is limiting the amount of information they can see. Most services require you to display your age, a description, and a picture.

    Outside of those items, you should keep the rest of your profile blank. Scammers require quite a bit of information about you before they can attempt to reel you in, so limiting their leverage from the start decreases your odds of being targeted. Don't give potential scammers leverage over you. As such, avoid sending messages that reveal who you are, at least at first. Avoid sending photos or videos that show friends or family, or that give away your location. Keep your discussions on the dating site. If you're using a dating site that has a built-in chat option as most do , your safest bet is to keep your conversations with the other person limited to the dating site's chat.

    If the other person suggests moving to email or texting, decline. This will usually allow your selected dating site to review the contents of your messages if you decide to report the other person as a scammer. Keeping discussions within the dating service will also allow you to block the person later if needed without having to block them in your email or on your phone as well.

    Avoid giving out your real phone number. If you must move the conversation over to your smartphone, don't tell the other person your number. This doesn't mean that you have to give someone a fake number; there are plenty of free mobile instant messaging services—WhatsApp, Skype, Google Voice , and Facebook Messenger are only a few examples—that can be used to message someone freely without having to compromise your real phone number.

    If the person to whom you're talking refuses to use any mode of conversation except your phone number, there's a decent chance that they're more interested in the number than in the conversation. Document your interactions with the person. If you suspect that the person with whom you're conversing is attempting to scam you, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you have evidence against them: Refrain from deleting conversations or other forms of communication.

    Take screenshots of the conversations. Stop talking to the person if need be. There's nothing wrong with cutting off contact with someone, especially if you think that they might be a scammer. If you have a bad feeling after interacting with a person online, you don't owe them your time. Many dating sites will allow you to block the person to whom you're talking.

    As long as they don't have your email address or phone number, doing this will prevent them from being able to contact you at all. If the person becomes unreasonably outraged or sends threats your way, be sure to take screenshots and report the person's profile to the dating service.

    Report scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Naturally, you should also report the scammer to the site on which you were scammed. What should I do if a man asks for my full name and address so he can send me gifts from overseas? Not Helpful 15 Helpful