Thursday, 22 February, 2018

'Rip-off': Many Australians won't do anything to mark Valentine's Day this year

Officials warn of online dating scams No valentines here: Fake online dating profiles used to scam suitors out of cash
Sammy Stanley | 15 February, 2018, 11:58

"This time of year, when people are looking for love and celebrating love, around Valentine's Day and it's a ideal time for scammers are ramping up their efforts", BBB Regional Manager Mara Clingingsmith said.

Online romantic fraud is believed to be vastly underreported, costing victims in the United States and Canada almost $1 billion in the last three years, according to a Better Business Bureau study. It can happen to anybody who is gay or straight.

“The common denominator for victims is that they believe in true love, and they believe they have found it, ” the report said.

Some scammers are now using online dating sites and fake profiles to meet potential victims. Both agencies estimate that past year alone, 32,279 people were victims of online romance scams, losing $351.4 million.

"Crooks that post profiles on dating sites and social media they're going to be pretending to look for somebody for a relationship", says regional director for the Better Business Bureau Stephanie Garland. Mary says the man said he was working on a project in Africa so they talked on the phone.

Do not share any personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you've just met online.

There are also official ways through the U.S. State Department and the Defense Department to transfer money to service members or Americans overseas.

Fed Cup: Serena Williams loses on return to competition
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"Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their 'undying love'".

Scammers will often sit behind their computer for months, grooming their victims and developing a deep love connection before they make their move. Scammers prefer prepaid cards and money transfers.

Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. This can include providing banking and other sensitive information to the scammer.

Daters should always ask questions about specific details in profiles.

"I think first of all if you're getting regular correspondence by email from a person that has contacted you through a dating site grab a paragraph of their dialogue and Google it, see if that comes up other places".

The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission estimate that so-called romance fraud causes the greatest dollar loss of any fraud or scam that affects individuals, with the exception of investment fraud.

Miguel Segura with the Better Business Bureau says, "Regardless of how convincing the profile may seem, regardless of how many pictures or what story they are giving you, these scammers are very sophisticated with very legitimate sounding stories to convince you".

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