The internet provides anyone with the opportunity to establish both business and personal relationships with people from around the world. Unfortunately, fraudsters and scam artists often exploit this opportunity by preying on individuals who frequent internet chat rooms, online dating services, social networking sites, and other online locations.
The schemers establish an online relationship with a potential victim by requesting emotional support for some personal event. By doing this, the scammer slowly cultivates a relationship that they hope will translate into significant goodwill and ultimately into financial gain. The relationship can continue for weeks, months, and sometimes even years.. After a successful online courtship, the scammer may ask the victim to assist them financially in order to remedy some traumatic situation such as the loss of a loved one, pending loss of a home, loss of their job, or other emergency.
Some of the most common reasons “angles” include:
- The individual or a family member needs medical attention
- The individual is a victim of a violent crime and they’ve been robbed of their belongings
- The individual would like to visit but needs funding for airline tickets, visas, or excessive customs costs.
Whatever the situation, the scammer asks the victim for money or requests for them to send traveler’s checks, money orders, or some other financial item to negotiate. They instruct the victim to wire the funds to a third party such as a doctor, or hotel manager. It’s likely that any proposed transaction will involve counterfeit or altered items.
Here are some tips to avoid relationship scheme and internet dating fraud:
- Be cautious when meeting people on the internet. Remember, they can pretend to be someone they aren’t.
- Be suspicious by default. Make others prove to you that they are a real individual, and they are who they say they are.
- Do not negotiate items on behalf of someone else
- Do not send money by money transfer to someone you do not know.
- Once someone asks for money, be suspicious of their behavior and consider every move you make very carefully.
- Never give out any personally identifiable information such as your address, birth date, phone number, or social security number. Make it your goal to give them nothing.
Following these simple steps will help you avoid becoming a victim of a relationship scam.
Learn more about other Frauds, Scams and Schemes.