Romance Scams

There Are More Than a Few Bad Apples in the Basket

Polling conducted by the highly respected Pew Research Center indicates that one out of five adults aged between 25-34 years has used an online dating site, while 66% out of all users have actually gone on dates with someone they met online.  And some of these sites actually report a high success rate of hooking up people whose relationships last for an extended period of time, if not permanently.

But there are also more than a few bad apples in the basket.  Some of the bad apples are scammers who signed up on the dating sites simply to romance partners into loaning them large amounts of money and then disappear.  And some of the bad apples are the dating sites themselves, whose business models are designed to swipe your money without providing any service.

Scammers on Dating Sites

In 2016, Britain’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that singles in that year alone were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and smartphone dating applications.  Ironically, the parties to many of these scam romances don’t even meet.  Studies have shown that if he’s a man, he typically claims to be an engineer working overseas (and in fact does work overseas, but as a scammer).

If she’s a woman, she typically claims to be a student whose photo reveals enough cleavage to convince you that you’d like to meet.

An email exchange develops.  It may also evolve into regular Skype calls.  You soon learn that the other party needs some money.  Maybe it’s for a return flight for the guy abroad so he can finally meet you, maybe it’s so that the student can pay off her tuition for the rest of the semester in order to then take time off her studies so she can meet up with you.  Maybe you’ll be told that one of their mothers is hospitalized and the loving son or daughter can’t meet the bills.  The bottom line is that you’ll be told anything to convince you to wire some money. The practice is known as “catfishing.” According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, approximately 18,500 U.S. residents were catfished in 2018. They wound up losing a whopping $362,500,761. 

Dating Sites That Are Scams

Dating sites that are designed to appeal to anyone looking for a quick fling stand a very good chance of being scams.  It’s certainly easy enough for a scammer to write up (or even copy from somewhere else) virtually endless profiles of likeminded people and post them online on a fake dating site, together with suggestive photos (which also can easily be found elsewhere and copied).

For those who are tantalized, they’ll find that signing up is expensive.  You’ll be encouraged to sign up for a number of months, because doing so will be much cheaper in the long run than renewing for a second month.  Pay attention to the small print too.  Your membership will be automatically renewed if you don’t cancel it in advance by jumping to another page that isn’t so easy to find.  That’s done on purpose to make it harder for you to quit.

At any rate, you find a lot of attractive people you’d like to hook up with.  You may suspect that some of them are fake, but they all can’t be, right?  Sooner or later you’ll hit on one who’s real, right?  So you send one a message and then another to someone else and yet another to someone else, on and on, but there’s never a response.  Not even a canned one (like “I’m interested too, please tell me more”).  Perhaps at that point you’ll understand that you’ve been had.  After all, once the scammer has your money, his job is done.  There’s no need to deliver the goods.

Wedding Scams

If you didn’t get caught up in an online romance scam, however, and found your soulmate, there’s always the possibility of falling for a wedding scam. In July 2019 a wedding planner from East Yorkshire in England simply disappeared. She allegedly took with her the hefty down payments a number of her customers paid her.

But then the story got more complicated. She also walked off with approximately 10,000 pounds sterling belonging to her boyfriend. Only after complaints were filed with the police, however, did the boyfriend learn that she was married to another man. She and her husband separated two years before. At the time she vanished she also owed 4,000 pounds to him.

Wherever she is, she can always go back to the sort of work she did before becoming a wedding planner. Back then she coordinated funerals.   

If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack