These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. While their most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you.He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is e-mailed to you.Serious fraudsters sometimes even create further fake profiles and use them to be rude to you, all to make the main fake profile seem more desirable.And it’s not just particularly vulnerable people who fall victim either.But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.
One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.
Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate.
But as Valentine’s Day gets closer, the FBI wants to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams..
In addition to losing your money to someone who had no intention of ever visiting you, you may also have unknowingly taken part in a money laundering scheme by cashing phony checks and sending the money overseas and by shipping stolen merchandise (the forwarded package).
In another recently reported dating extortion scam, victims usually met someone on an online dating site and then were asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site, where the talk often turned intimate.