Online dating investigations have skyrocketed due to millions of Americans visiting online dating websites every day hoping to find a companion, love, comfort, or even a soulmate. What ordinary people don’t know is that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams. These criminals troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims. The most common story there is: these criminals claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. But in reality, they most likely live overseas.
Online dating investigations have revealed the most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk. The scam usually works by the victim being contacted online by someone who appears interested in them. They will begin a conversation that can last for weeks, even months. The victim may chat back and forth with this person, to form a connection. They may also be sent flowers or other gifts. But ultimately, it’s going to happen—your newfound “friend” is going to ask you for money.
Another common scam revealed by online dating investigations is when the con artist, after forming a relationship with their victim, requests money for what seems to be a valid reason, like a family member being ill or their cash card not working correctly. After the payment has been sent, they cut contact. Money laundering is also a standard scheme. This happens when a victim is asked to send money or stolen objects, like laptops, iPads, and even cellphones. These scammers will frequently ask their victims to forward packages, cash, and cash checks.
Lately, Nationwide Legal Investigations & Marc J. Tropeano PI have seen a rising scam involving these scam artists growing so close to their victims over time that intimate photos and conversations take place regularly. These scammers will then post this private information on the internet and will only remove it when they are paid a large amount of money. A catfish scam is when someone uses fake online profiles to appeal to their victims romantically. These scammers use fake names, patterns, and photos to lure in people for many reasons.
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