Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, or injured, or in one instance, deceased.IC3 complainants most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers.The emotional loss, Shadel said, "weakens your psychological immune system" when you would otherwise be able to "sniff this stuff out and defend against it."Besides generally being on guard for suspicious interactions and being wary when you're emotionally vulnerable, AARP offers a few Internet search tips to help prevent a scam:•Use Google's "search by image" feature to see if the person's image shows up in other places using a different name.•If an email from a potential suitor seems suspicious, copy and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites.•Verify that the person is real by matching what the person tells you about themselves to what you read on the person's Facebook, Twitter and Linked In pages.
Scammers also ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing.
These are all lies intended to take money from unsuspecting victims.
Neither company returned a request for comment Monday."Some of the sites do some of the things we're asking for, but we're asking the industry to step it up because there are so many examples of horrible abuses," Shadel said.
And while some sites offer safety tips, they could make the advice more prominent or even require users to read them before joining, he said."As general types of crime have gone down or stabilized, financial exploitation, especially on the Internet, has just been skyrocketing," Shadel said.
Maybe most significant, it is asking dating sites to be more proactive, issuing alerts to members who have been in contact with someone using a fraudulent profile.
and e have online dating safety tips as a link on their home pages and mention safeguarding finances, and both use some of the techniques suggested by AARP.AARP has its own online dating site for seniors powered by How About We.That site has told AARP is it already complying with the group's industry recommendations, Shadel said.The principal group of victims is over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled, but all demographics are at risk.Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their "undying love." These criminals also use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes.But, have you thought for a second if there are people who are just like you signing up on these online dating sites?