World News: "Five signs of a romance scam: Beware of Online Scammers who want money, not love!"
07/13/2012 - 13 hours agohttp://www.examiner.com/article/five-si ... y-not-love
Five signs of a romance scam: Beware of online scammers who want money, not love
Websites like Match.com and Plenty of Fish are handy meeting places for busy romance seekers to meet compatible people. Unfortunately, they're also a fertile hunting ground for scam artists.
Most romance scammers are from countries like Nigeria, where they troll dating sites from internet cafes and reel in their victims. You won't know what happened until you realize your bank account is empty and your dream lover doesn't exist.
Here are five ways to recognize a romance scammer and avoid being taken by an online dating scam:
1) The person wants to talk through text or IM instead of on the phone. Romance scammers usually operate out of other countries, like Nigeria or Jamaica, and they often pretend to be someone of the opposite sex. They stick to texts and chat so you don't hear their voices or notice their accents.
Often you'll notice that a scammer doesn't use good English in emails and texts. This is another red flag, especially if the person never directly answers questions you pose in your own emails. Scammers with limited language skills often use scripts as the basis for their communication. They try not to move off the script when possible so they don't give away their lack of English fluency.
2) The person claims to live near you but is away on business in another country. Although the United States has its share of romance scammers, many operate out of other countries because they're nearly impossible to catch when they're not in U.S. boarders. Scammers will claim to be from somewhere close to you, but they'll be working a job in Africa or elsewhere or be in other country because of a family commitment.
3) The person has a heart-wrenching story about their previous relationship. Scammers want to make you vulnerable, and one way to do that is to earn your pity. Many con artists claim their spouse died of an illness or was killed in some tragic way, like getting hit by a drunk driver. They often say they're a single parent, raising a child alone because of the tragedy, or else they'll claim they had kids who died in the same accident as their spouse.
Romance scammers aren't above sending you cute little drawings and notes their youngster supposedly made for you. This is designed to make you put down your guard and get you attached to the non-existent child.
Obviously, there are genuine people who go on online dating sites looking for love after bad experiences. Just beware if someone claiming to be a victim of tragedy shows other signs of being a scammer.
4) The person falls in love with you immediately. Romance scammers know all the right things to say. Often, they'll profess true love for you within days of their first contact, even though you've never met face to face or even talked on the phone. They'll claim you were sent from Heaven and that they're know you're meant to be together.
The only thing these con artists really love is getting a vulnerable victim on the hook. If you're been hurt in the past, or you're desperately seeking a relationship, they think you might fall for their flowery lines.
5) The person asks you for money or sends you money and wants you to handle a transaction. Stripping you of as much money as possible is the romance scammer's ultimate goal. The most blatant way is to ask for money outright. The scammer often claims to have been mugged in a foreign country or to need funds for a child's emergency surgery. Of course, the money must be sent via an untraceable and unrecoverable method like Western Union or a Green Dot card.
A sneakier way is for the scammer to send money to you via a check and ask your help in a business transaction. For example, you might get a check for $5,000, with instructions to keep $1,000 as a fee and to wire the remaining $4,000 to someone in another state or country for some made-up business purpose.
The check is fake or stolen, but it takes a while to be returned. When it is, you own your bank the entire $5,000, and you could even face criminal charges for depositing the bad check, regardless of whether you knew it was fake or not.
Don't be afraid to use online dating sites, but keep your radar up when you do. Cease all contact with anyone who gives you a suspicious feeling and you'll manage to avoid falling victim to an online dating scam.
What if you fall for one of these scams and lose money to a con artists? Check out my article on four important steps to take.