According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.In 2015, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than 0 million this way.He or she lives far away (scammers frequently claim to be in the military or working overseas). After exchanging a couple of messages through the dating site, your new love interest suggests that you start emailing or chatting through a different service.You agree, and, soon, you are exchanging photos and messages frequently.(It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can't get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.According to the Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.
The scammer might say that an immediate family member has a medical emergency and needs money for treatment, or that he has been wrongly arrested and needs help with bail money and legal support.Someone you have started to develop a relationship with online might first ask for money for travel costs, or say they have lost their plane ticket so need to borrow some cash for a new one.They might say a family member is ill and they need funds for urgent medical treatment.And if you replace “collect an inheritance” with “find true love,” they’re an increasing menace for dating apps and services. But they are an increasingly important front for criminals, who in turn use increasingly sophisticated methods to snare their marks, and take them for whatever they can.A recently released list, by a fraud-busting company called Scamalytics, of the top lines and photos used in profiles by online dating grifters shows that while the range of sophistication may vary, the end goal is always the same: To fleece romance-seekers out of their money.