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Internet dating scams list

Our Eye Center has answers to your vision health questions. Visit today. Three in 10 U. But seeking romantic bliss online can have a major downside: Cyberspace is full of scammers eager to take advantage of lonely hearts. The con works something like this: You post a dating profile and up pops a promising match — good-looking, smart, funny and personable. This potential mate claims to live in another part of the country or to be abroad for business or a military deployment.

But he or she seems smitten and eager to get to know you better, and suggests you move your relationship to a private channel like email or a chat app. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts for more tips on avoiding scams.

Over weeks or months you feel yourself growing closer. You make plans to meet in person, but for your new love something always comes up. Then you get an urgent request. He or she will promise to pay it back, but that will never happen.

Phony suitors also seek marks on social media, reaching out to people they spot on Facebook or Instagram, and they are increasingly active. Romance scammers are smooth operators and can take their time to set their trap. Whether you have been personally affected by scams or fraud or are interested in learning more, the AARP Fraud Watch Network advocates on your behalf and equips you with the knowledge you need to feel more informed and confidently spot and avoid scams.

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Share with facebook. Share with twitter. Share with linkedin. Share using email. Many of the signs of a romance scammer are subtle and insidious because the scammer is trying to build trust before they exploit you. Often times, the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time.

Guard your personal information carefully, and be wary if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact. Be suspicious of anyone who asks you for financial assistance, no matter how dire their circumstances seem to be. Often times, scammers convince victims to leave the dating site and use personal email or instant messaging to continue communication. At first, this might not seem like a red flag. Be very cautious when someone asks for your phone number or email address.

This makes it even easier for them to access your personal information. If an online love interest makes plans to visit but always seems to change their plans at the last second because of a traumatic event, family drama or a business loss, you should be very suspicious. Often, their cancellation will be accompanied by a request for a short-term loan. If you buy me a ticket, I will pay you back! I just want to be together. Once you know how to tell if someone is scamming you online, you should have better success avoiding online dating scams, and you will maintain better overall online safety.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one has fallen victim to an online dating scam, you should report your experience to whichever online dating or social media site you were on. You should also file a complaint with the FTC. When you know how to report a dating scammer, it can be empowering.

Many times, victims who report a scam feel a sense of relief after notifying authorities. Not only can it help with their personal circumstance, it can also prevent people from falling victim to the romance scammer in the future. Once you report a suspected scam, your financial institution will work with you on the next steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay updated on the latest online scams and ways to avoid them.

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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. 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. 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. 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:. 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. Legitimate users often post links to their favorite bands, travel destinations or hobbies.

If requests for money are ever on the table, walk away. Online dating scams often prey on vulnerable users, those looking for human connection in an increasingly distant world. Armed with knowledge about common scams and how to avoid fraudsters, you can skip fake romance and seek out true love instead. We use cookies to make your experience of our websites better. By using and further navigating this website you accept this. Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone.

But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.

The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous.

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However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honorable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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:. 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.

Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don't realize they are a victim until it is too late. We also have information about how to report a dating scammer if you or someone you love has fallen victim to one. Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation and can sound very convincing. Many of the signs of a romance scammer are subtle and insidious because the scammer is trying to build trust before they exploit you.

Often times, the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time. Guard your personal information carefully, and be wary if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact. Be suspicious of anyone who asks you for financial assistance, no matter how dire their circumstances seem to be.

Often times, scammers convince victims to leave the dating site and use personal email or instant messaging to continue communication. At first, this might not seem like a red flag. Be very cautious when someone asks for your phone number or email address. This makes it even easier for them to access your personal information.

If an online love interest makes plans to visit but always seems to change their plans at the last second because of a traumatic event, family drama or a business loss, you should be very suspicious. Often, their cancellation will be accompanied by a request for a short-term loan. If you buy me a ticket, I will pay you back! I just want to be together.

Once you know how to tell if someone is scamming you online, you should have better success avoiding online dating scams, and you will maintain better overall online safety. If you are concerned that you or a loved one has fallen victim to an online dating scam, you should report your experience to whichever online dating or social media site you were on. You should also file a complaint with the FTC. When you know how to report a dating scammer, it can be empowering. Many times, victims who report a scam feel a sense of relief after notifying authorities.

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This, however, cannot go on forever, so if they continue avoiding phone calls over the course of weeks, then this should raise a red flag. They also avoid phone calls because they will not have a local number, and if they do, it will be an online VOIP number, which would cause suspicion to the average person. They go to the airport ready to hop on a flight, yet when they arrive, they suddenly find out that they lack funds to pay for their Visa.

Some may even explain that they need a minimum bank account balance, so when asked to send money for this reason, block and report them right away. It could be that they simply use overly extravagant words, or that they try too hard to sound perfect. In other words, they attempt to sound extra formal. Most online dating chats are casual at best; especially after a few messages have been exchanged.

These are words typically not used in casual chats and are definitely very commonly used by scammers trying to overcompensate and deliver. It may not be a surprise when we say that online dating scammers do not want to meet you in real life, at least in most cases.

Most of the time, these individuals will create a false emergency almost every time the victim asks them to come and visit. This may be hard to notice at first, especially if the scammer is using a good script. However, if they do this more than once or twice, this is obviously a scammer trying to find another victim — unless, of course, he is the unluckiest person on earth.

This would be a great opportunity to video chat with them, so that you can judge his responses when you ask hard questions that may be difficult for him to answer using scripts while on a live call. We usually recommend in some of our guides to request a video chat to people who may suspect they are talking to an online dating scammer; and with reason.

This gives you the ability to really pay attention to their facial expressions and responses, thus giving you the ability to judge their responses and determine whether or not they may be using a script. Video chatting can give you the opportunity to ask hard questions, which can make a scammer slip up due to the script failing to have a proper response.

Scammers know this, which means in almost all cases, they will avoid it at all cost. Simply asking for a video chat and being denied multiple times is a dead give away that you are chatting with a scammer. Anonymity and security is something all online dating scammers love to have, and this is something they cannot get on most online dating websites.

Usually within a day or so, they will request that you both move over to email or another platform, such as Google Hangouts , to continue chatting. Beware, though — this only gives the scammer a much less of a chance of being banned on the dating website and gives him a bit more privacy.

If someone asks you to move onto another platform to continue the conversation where it left off, this should immediately raise a red flag. However, if asked to move to Snapchat or Instagram, this may not necessarily be a scam; but this is where proper judgment should be used.

We find that it is extremely common for online dating scammers to quickly fall in love with their victims. These individuals try their best to fast forward things as quickly as possible so that they can take money from you sooner, rather than later. Sadly enough, victims do not usually notice this, as most victims of romance scams are already vulnerable, although definitely not all. If you are told by someone on an online dating website or even social media that this person loves you and it has only been a week, this should undoubtedly be cause for suspicion.

This is by far the most known scam and is a very popular method used by those looking for new victims. This will initially begin with an individual being contacted by the scammer, who will then explain how he is deployed overseas, for example. This is used because Americans tend to trust their Military — for good reason. However, when you are contacted with someone claiming to be in the Military right off the bat, this should raise a red flag for most, although like with others, some good judgement is required.

After all, there are millions of service members. Almost all online dating scams involve money in one way or another. Sometimes they may ask very quickly within a week, for example. However, sometimes they may wait for months to ask for money in order to gain your trust; especially if they plan on asking for a more substantial amount of money. The most common scammers will typically ask for smaller amounts at first, but will suddenly begin asking for much bigger amounts.

These online scammers have numerous amounts of scams that they use and sometimes they can be extremely creative when making them. A large weak point that is very typical of online dating scammers is their social media. More often than not, they forget to both build structure such as lack of friends, page likes, posts and photos. Sometimes, they even have a personal social media account that has their real name and photo.

Most online dating scammers like to use stolen photos taken from other social media accounts; and may even use a stock photo. Typically, if more than one name is connected to that photo, then it is stolen. Anonymity is something almost all online dating scammers want, which means in almost every circumstance, they avoid video chats at all cost. If you suspect that you may potentially be falling victim to a romance scam, request to initiate a video call with this person.

If they deny this and make excuses, especially more than twice, then this is a huge red flag; and you should take extra precautions. Online dating scammers are not located within the same country as the victim in most cases, which means that they will likely have an accent. The scammers know this, so they will almost certainly not accept a phone call from their victim.

In a dedicated phishing post , we look at the how to avoid or repair the damage done by common phishing scams, some of which are explained below. Spear phishing is very targeted and the perpetrator typically knows some of your details before they strike. This could be information gleaned from social media, such as recent purchases and personal info, including where you live.

A phishing email or message might be crafted based on those details, asking for more information including payment details or passwords. This is geared toward businesses and targets high-level executives within corporations who have access to the email accounts of someone in authority.

Once they have access to that email account, they can use it for other means such as accessing employee information or ordering fraudulent wire transfers see also: CEO fraud. Recents cases have involved schools, hospitals, and tribal groups, as well as businesses. The email might be from an actual or spoofed executive account or might appear to be from the IRS or an accounting firm.

Once provided, the documents give criminals everything they need for identity theft. This way criminals can get an increased payload for their efforts. Voice phishing vishing scams are not really online scams, but they are often linked and are becoming more sophisticated so are worth mentioning here. They use voice solicitation to get information or money from consumers or businesses.

The scammer calls the victim and attempts to use social engineering techniques to trick the victim into doing something, often to give credit or debit card details or send money. Sending email spam and SMS spam is very easy and costs almost nothing. Calling an intended victim personally, on the other hand, takes more time and effort.

While phone calls are more expensive than email, VoIP has made mass calling far more accessible to criminals. To make matters worse, it is almost trivial to spoof a caller ID number these days. Scammers will typically pose as a financial institution representative and tell you there has been suspected fraud or suspicious activity on your account. While some will then try to extract personal or bank account information, other scammers have different tactics. The first contact via phone may be automated meaning scammers can reach a huge number of targets very easily.

It also means they only have to actually speak with anyone who calls back. See more tax scams. Fake prize or contest winnings are often communicated via a phone call or automated voice message. Promised prizes could be in the form of cash, a car, or an all-expenses-paid vacation.

In reality, fraudsters are looking to find out personal details including your address and social security number for use in credit card fraud or identity theft. The tech support scam often starts as a phone call and ultimately ends up online, similar to the bank scam mentioned above.

Once you do, the fake tech can do whatever they want with your system, including installing malware or ransomware. They then have all of your payment info and in some cases can continue to access your computer through the remote access software whenever they want. The popup is usually difficult to get rid of which serves as motivation to call the number provided. Criminals prey on this fear and often pose as police or government officers to phish for personal information.

Bear in mind, any such legitimate contact would be dealt with in person or at the very least by mail. While many of the other scams on this list could potentially be carried out through social media, a few very specific ones have popped up on social platforms. Scammers capitalize by posting ads for such a feature.

This scam involves a clickbait-style headline on Facebook relaying some fake celebrity news, such as the death of a well-known star or a new relationship in Hollywood. They can then reach out to your friends and family with friend or follow requests and once connected, pose as you. These trusted connections can then be used for a whole host of purposes such as spreading malware or requesting money for made-up scenarios.

One app released in called InstLike asked for usernames and passwords in return for follow and likes. In fact, they simply collected the credentials of , users and turned them into participants in a large social botnet. Basically, the app did deliver on its promise but used the accounts of those who signed up to do so. A job offer scam might be run through email, but is commonly conducted through professional networking site LinkedIn. In some cases, these can lead to scams whereby you become the middleman for transferring funds.

Many people purchase airline tickets, hotel rooms, and even entire vacation packages online these days. Scammers know this and there has been a rise in fraudulent travel sites selling fake tickets and non-existent vacations. Travel is usually a big-ticket item, which spells big bucks for criminals.

There may be no record of you having a booking at all. These scams may be initiated via phone or email, but typically the target is told that they have won a vacation. In order to claim, they either have to pay a small fee advanced fee scam or provide credit card details for a deposit. In the former case, the thief takes off with the money. In the latter, the credit card details can be used in credit card fraud.

In this case, someone posts an ad claiming that they have purchased a ticket for a trip they can no longer go on. They then sell the fake tickets for a much lower price than their face value. With insurance company agencies making it so difficult to get refunds on tickets, the fact that someone might be selling tickets online is made more believable, fueling the success of the scam.

In a points scam, the target is called or emailed and informed that they have won a huge number of points, through a travel points card program or a travel credit card points scheme. All they have to do is provide some details to confirm the transaction. This may include account information, credit card details, or other personal information. The vacation rental scam involves fraudsters posting ads for property in desirable locations for bargain prices.

The victim is required to send a deposit or the full amount up front. Criminals look to exploit both taxpayers and the government using a range of tax-related scams. In a fake audit scam, targets are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS or similar tax agency and told that an audit has identified a discrepancy. Oddly, in Canada, it is reported that many of these particular scams involve payment requests via iTunes gift cards.

This one targets people who are expecting a tax refund. Again, criminals pose as the IRS or similar agency and prompt targets to click a link through which they can claim their refund. However, the link leads to a phishing site where the victim is asked to provide personal information such as their social security number and banking details, which can be used in identity theft. This scam is a bit more sophisticated as it actually uses real client details stolen from accounting firms via hacking or phishing.

The information is used to file a fake tax refund request which is processed by the IRS, and the client receives the refund amount. The scammer then poses as the IRS or a collection agency, tells the client the refund was issued in error, and demands the money be returned. Of course, the payment is directed toward the fraudster, not the IRS. This case spells double trouble for the client. Not only are they short their refund, they could also be in hot water with the IRS for supposedly filing a false claim.

However, the victim can be negatively impacted as failing to pay taxes can result in a conviction, including fines and imprisonment. Indeed, there are so many methods for scammers to choose from, and scams and hacks involving bitcoin and altcoins seem to be constantly in the news. One example of a blatantly fake coin exchange is Internet Coin Exchange which simply lists cryptocurrency price details alongside Buy buttons.

Other questionable operations include Igot , which later became Bitlio. Unfortunately, when exchanges are hacked by cybercriminals, both the exchange and its customers tend to lose out. This involves the organized promotion of a particular cryptocurrency, usually a relatively unknown coin.

The mass investment causes the value to spike, encouraging other investors to get in on the action. Mining of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies typically involves using computational power to support the network in return for a reward. Enter cloud mining companies, which enable you to invest in mining without having to actually deal with the setup yourself. Of course, where there are investors, there are scammers ready and waiting. Known as malicious cryptomining or cryptojacking , the malware is usually spread by a trojan virus.

Infected computers then form a larger botnet that mines cryptocurrencies. Investors are wooed with whitepapers and promises of superior security and broad application potential. They buy coins in exchange for fiat currency, hoping to get a return on their investment.

ICOs in general are viewed as such a problem that China has banned them and other countries are imposing heavy regulation. For example, the legitimate Seele ICO had their Telegram channel hijacked by people posing as admins. Investors were persuaded to pay for tokens before the sale had actually started and the funds were pocketed by the criminals.

Other suspicious schemes include BitConnect, which shut down after receiving multiple cease and desist letters, and OneCoin, a reported global Ponzi scheme that is still going strong. When a cryptocurrency forks and a new coin is created, it can be difficult to find a wallet that can accommodate the new coin. Enter scammers. When Bitcoin Gold was first released, the mybtgwallet.

More impersonators are taking advantage of the cryptocurrency market, this time in the form of wallet clones. Criminals make people believe they are depositing their coins into a legitimate wallet but are actually keeping them for themselves. It used domains impersonating the reputable Blockchain. Coin mixing services are used to mix coins in order to break the connection between the sender and receiver, making transactions more anonymous.

While coin mixing services can aid illegal activity, they can have legitimate use cases, too. Popular sites include Bit Blender and the now-defunct Helix by Grams. These two were involved in a phishing scam on the dark web where a coin mixing tutorial used links to fake websites for both of the services.

Users following the steps and visiting the links simply handed over their coin to the thieves. This was clearly unattainable and the site disappeared in November after stealing an unknown amount from investors. Aside from all of the above, there are many more online scams to look out for. Here are some of the most popular plays making the rounds right now.

We mentioned popups in the tech support scam earlier. A common occurrence you might have already seen are popup windows prompting you to download anti-virus software. However, when you follow the prompt, you could end up with malware instead. Fake websites are usually used in phishing scams. Typically, a replica of a legitimate website is used to encourage targets to enter details such as credentials, banking information, and personal details.

For example, the above image from the Expr3ss blog shows a very convincing fake Facebook login page. This is a more specific example of a fake website and is a big problem. Replicas of reputable websites may be used to make counterfeit goods seem legitimate. For example, brands like Ugg, Coach, and Michael Kors have had their websites copied almost exactly to make consumers believe they are purchasing genuine goods from the real brand. In fact, in the US, romance scams account for the largest financial losses of all internet crimes.

Fraudsters may contact targets through phone, email, text, social media, or dating sites. They typically pose as a different person, including creating completely fake profiles this is called catfishing , and often work in groups. The ultimate goal might be to get victims to pay money , hand over personal information, or even aid in illegal activities.

We mentioned travel ticket scams earlier, but would-be concert goers and sporting event attendees are also common targets of ticket scams. The rental scam preys on those desperately searching for a place to call home. Rental ads are posted with below-average prices, attracting plenty of buyers.

The fake landlord may also have renters fill out a form which includes banking information along with other personal details. SMS scams smishing scams are variations on phishing and vishing scams and involve the use of a text message. SMS, or text messaging, is built into just about every phone on the planet.

As phones become more internet connected, many of us have transitioned to instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. But good old SMS messaging is almost always available. Scammers know that and can use it to target you. A smishing text message will usually have much the same aims as any other kind of fraud. Scammers may want you to click a link to download malware or adware, or bring you to a convincing looking phishing page in order to trick you into providing your login credentials for a website.

Others might provide a number to call as a transition to a vishing scamming method. While these often follow similar plays to email and voice scams, there are some more specific cases, such as trying to get you to activate a new credit card or telling you an account is expiring. In this rather complex scheme, targets order products on Amazon from third-party sellers. The seller prompts the buyer to complete the transaction outside of Amazon, so gets paid and has access to payment information.

This is a slightly different angle to the one above, but is also orchestrated by third-party sellers. In this case they ship empty packages to wrong addresses where they are signed for by someone who is in on the scam. Since the package is signed for, the victim often has problems when trying to make a claim with Amazon. Astroturfing has been around for a long time and its definition can be loosely defined as a company creating fake support around its product in order to attract customers.

One famous example was McDonalds paying employees to stand in line to create buzz around the release of the Quarter Pounder in Japan. With the persuasive power of online reviews, these have become a means for digital astroturfing. Companies simply pay people to write fake glowing reviews on supposedly unbiased review sites. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to swapping online reviews for specific sites like Amazon or specific product types, for example, books. Consumers rely heavily on these reviews when making purchases and ultimately end up with a subpar product or service or nothing at all.

There are a broad range of continuity scams out there but they typically follow similar patterns. Popups for surveys offering free gifts or amazing deals lead victims to enter credit card details to pay for minimal fees or shipping. Often hidden in the small print are exorbitant ongoing monthly fees that can be near impossible to cancel. This is another reason to always check your statements as these could easily go unnoticed. This scam is along the same lines as astroturfing and is conducted very much out in the open.

It involves articles or other methods and materials which persuade potential investors to contribute funds based on exaggerated predictions. In April , the SEC enforced actions against 27 individuals and entities for such fraudulent promotions of stocks. Some scammers are using a tactic whereby they fake a pending payment to encourage the release of goods.

This might be a bogus PayPal or email transfer message to say that payment will be released once tracking information is received. Once you do actually send the goods, no payment is ever received. The overpayment is another one for sellers to watch out for.

It usually relates to the sale of items or services, often through classified ads. The scammer sends you payment for whatever you are selling but sends too much. They ask you to refund the difference. This just makes it even more important that you watch out for tell-tale signs. Many scams require a legitimate looking website for victims to interact with and provide the information the scammer is looking for.

This is a good question which we cover in detail in a post about recognizing scam or fake websites. There is no single silver bullet that can indicate the trustworthiness of a site, but there are a number of things you can check that will help you make a judgement call. As Mr. Scammers can be clever, though, and it can be hard to spot the fake phishing emails sometimes.