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In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 (5,300) through online dating sites.
He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.
People are often ashamed to come forward and admit that they’ve been duped.
It’s not a good feeling to have been taken advantage of, and a scheme that’s so obvious in hindsight is even harder to admit to. If you date online, take precautions to protect yourself.
While the British scammer mentioned in the introduction to this article met his victims in person, most scammers will avoid face-to-face meetings at all costs.
There’s a huge variety of reasons that you could get.
If someone sends you a message and says they’d like to get to know you, save a copy of their picture and use Google’s reverse image search to see if anyone has posted about that photo being used for a scam.
If that image shows up on other profiles with different names, you should be suspicious. If you receive other photos, and anything seems off, be wary.
Of course, just because someone is younger doesn’t mean that they’re a scammer; it’s just something to keep in mind.
Scammers also often list themselves as widowed (especially with a child), self-employed, or working overseas.