Kansas City, MO - Valentine's Day is here and according to Match.com, 44% of adult Americans are still looking for that special someone. Tens of millions are turning to online dating to make it happen.
Like with everything else, scammers take also advantage of online dating. They are eager to exploit the vulnerabilities of people trying to make a personal connection.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), losses from just 2012 totaled more than $55 million.
According to IC3's 2012 annual report, "Perpetrators use the promise of love and romance to entice and manipulate online victims. A perpetrator scouts the internet for victims, often finding them in chat rooms, on dating sites and even within social media networks. These individuals seduce victims with small gifts, poetry, claims of common interest or the promise of constant companionship. Once the scammers gain the trust of their victims, they request money, ask victims to receive packages and reship them overseas or seek other favors."
The BBB advises customers of matchmaking services to watch for the following red flags.
- Bad grammar and misunderstanding the use of American Slang.
- Expressing feelings of love too quickly.
- Needing urgent financial assistance.
- Claiming to be travelling for business overseas.
- When answering tough questions, they delay responses by saying that they need to take a phone call (they are looking up ways to respond).
If any of these look familiar, it may be time to take a step back from a burgeoning relationship.
Scammers will also take advantage of Valentines Day specifically. The BBB urges consumers to be extra careful when clicking links found in social media posts or emails. Watch out for the following scams:
- Social Media Scams: "Free" giveaways for flowers, perfumes, or vacations. Links will often send you to third party sites infected with viruses that steal personal information.
- Instant Messaging: IMs might invite users to a romantic online chat, but again, directs to a third party website.
- E-Cards: Emails from friends that link to an online greeting card may actually lead to downloading malware. Triple check the contact information so that you know exactly who sent the card and where you are downloading it from.
- Phishing: Similar to Christmas phishing scams, an email warns that a delivery service such as Fed-Ex or UPS was unable to deliver your gift. When consumers click the links, they will get malware.