Military Romance Scams
Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering. Other scam artists make their fake profiles look as appealing as possible and wait from victims to reach out and begin the conversation. Once a scammer has you hooked, the possibilities are limitless, but here are a few of the most common variations:.
Fraudsters may use the name and likeness of actual soldier or create an entirely fake profile.
Know if You’re at Risk
They send out legitimate-seeming emails, introducing themselves as being near the end of their careers, often with older children and typically widowed under tragic circumstances. The emails are riddled with military jargon, titles and base locations, which sound impressive. In many cases, these scammers work with one or more accomplices who pose as doctors or lawyers to extract a steady stream of money. In many cases, military scams drag on for months or even years before victims finally get suspicious.
How to Spot and Avoid an Online Dating Scammer
The scammer then reveals their true identity. They claim to have made a video recording and threaten to share the video with mutual social media friends or post the recording online, unless the victim sends money.
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Once the victim complies, the cycle begins—demands increase until the victim finally refuses. The recent Ashely Madison leak offers a glimpse into the world of fake dating sites. Services claim to offer legitimate meetups, but are either severely underpopulated or awash with scammers.
Look out for sign-up questionnaires that are light on personal details, but heavy on questions about finances.
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Sometimes, even on legitimate dating sites, you can run into a lemon. Look out for these red flags to distinguish between soulmate material and scammers:.
Anatomy of Online Dating Scams - How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance
Before contacting anyone on a dating site or over social media, take a hard look at their profile. If they supposedly come from an English-speaking nation, be on the lookout for awful spelling and grammar. The same goes for emails. If messages and profile descriptions read too well, be worried.
As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. Eventually a pitch for money comes. Often the scammer will say an emergency situation has arisen and money is needed fast to avoid dire consequences.
This makes it hard for the victim to do due diligence. 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. Copy the images your online correspondent has posted to his or her profile, then run them through a reverse-image search engine, such as TinEye or Google Images.
The website Scamalytics maintains a blacklist of scammers who use false pictures. A little online stalking can go a long way. Type the name of the person you met online into Google or Bing and see what comes up. You might not be able to surface information like criminal records, but from their social media profiles, LinkedIn page, and other information you find, you should be able to get a sense of whether what they are telling you comports with the facts. Sometimes, it may be wise to dig deeper. For example, if a person you met online claims to run a business abroad, call the U.
Embassy to confirm that the business exists. If you are asked to send money and feel so inclined, run the whole scenario by someone you trust. Choose a friend or someone from your church or community who is less emotionally invested than you are.
Be open to their perspective. If the request for funds is indeed a scam, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to ever recover the money. Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.