Online romance scam artists are so prevalent, the FBI has given them a name.
They call it operation: Romeo and Juliet.
It’s an attempt to crack down on scams coming via online romances and relationships.
The FBI Has A Special Task Force To Find And Prosecute Online Romance Scams.
It sounds so innocent, when Dr. Neil Clark Warren comes on TV with his eHarmony.com dating service commercial and describes all the weddings resulting from his site.
His slogan claims eHarmony is the number 1 most trusted service for online dating. The goal at eHarmony are long-term relationships.
Match.com is all over television seeking members to use their platform to find the right mate. Their pitch seems so center around a first date success is in getting the second date.
Then of course the sight for older adults, OurTime.com. The target market is mature singles. Better described as those over 50. The OurTime Facebook page has almost 18,000 fans with over 69K likes.
Not to be left out, Christian singles now have Christian Mingle. Don’t confuse the 2014 romantic comedy with the dating service. ChristianMingle.com boasts the opportunity to enjoy Christian chat rooms, share photos and scripture verses, engage in instant messaging plus a lot more.
So why is the FBI so concerned with this online dating phenomena that they would create a task force to combat the crime?
The crime is not in the dating. The crime comes from fake Romeo’s determined to bilk unsuspecting Juliet’s of their cash.
The thought that roles can be reversed are probable, just not chronicled. Except in the crime TV stories of Black Widows.
Not All Are Honest
Believe it or not, there are people who are not who they claim to be. There are those who lie on the dating service application. They describe someone other than themselves.
The photos they share and the background they claim are all bogus. Their motive is nothing short of criminal.
For younger members, the risk of falling victim to sexual crimes is significant. Older men often portray themselves as up and coming college men. The female victims are so willing to find a suitor that they fall for the online charms of their Romeo.
In the case reported in the Los Angeles Daily News this week, an 83 year old woman only described as Kathy, was bulked out of $23,000 by a man who promised marriage. She sent the money so he could clear up some outstanding debt before their wedding. She sent the money to Malaysia.
The money represented everything she had including her jewelry, which she sold to raise cash. According to her son, she still believes he loves her and it was not a scam.
Dr Phil Has Even More
Dr Phil has had similar stories on his widely acclaimed television program. It is all too common that the victims of the Romeo and Juliet romance scam never acknowledge they were victims.
One such love fraud involved Gilda, a 65 year old widow. Eric was able, online, to convince her for more than a year that he was in love with her. While never seeing him in person or even speaking on the phone, she sent him nearly her entire life savings.
The Gilda story goes deeper. Eric was not her first. According to Dr Phil, Gilda tried online dating on a previous occasion and was duped out of $2,500 by her online lover.
Dr Phil recreated the various money transfers and determined that over a period of one year Gilda sent he online Romeo more than $191,000.
The story and video can be seen here. The Dr. Phil Show.com
Online Dating Scams Are Real.
The well known television tech guy, Kurt Knutsson, known to many as Kurt the Cyber guy has this list of safeguards when meeting strangers online.
Kurt has these 10 warning signs.
If your online date shows two signs from this list, you may be a target for on online Romeo and Juliet scam
Dumb Date Data.
In this scenario, if physical descriptions don’t seem right look further. Example is stating a height of 6 feet but only weighing 90 pounds.
Kurt’s tip here is to ask for a photo with an unique phrase on a sign they are holding.
Profile Picture Test.
Professional pictures are a red flag. Ask for more than one amateur photo. Using a Smartphone do Google Googles search. Follow the directions on Google and you may find the photo is a fake from the web.
Become a photo detective.
Here is where you look closely at the photos you’re sent. Look for things like wedding rings or backgrounds that aren’t right.
Copy and paste alert
Often scammers have copied the profile of a real person from an online service. Check to see if similar information may exist online. If they are using the data from someone else you may find it.
Spelling and grammar fail
Read closely the words you get in messages. Grammar and dialogue will be different if written by a person on the other side of the world. Did you know that learned in the United States is often learnt in Europe. Pay attention. There are many things a foreigner will get wrong.
Derailing you from the dating site.
Be alert if they try to get you off the dating site. They will ask to use IM or text and email messages.
Kurt recommends that you use a unique email for this person only. They should not have your personal email address.
Too serious too soon.
Watch if you’re being rushed. The online party might have a suggestion that is not expected. They may prey on your sympathy based on your profile.
Ask lots of questions
An online scammer will not want to give much information. Instead, they ask the questions. Don’t be taken. Continue to ask questions, even when they seem not to like it.
You Are Not An ATM
If they ask for money, immediately stop communicating with them.
Kurt the Cyber guy says that if they are sophisticated enough to have an online profile, they will have a Facebook page.
Read it so see if it lines up with what they are telling you. Check to see when it was created. If it started when the online dating started, be alert. Check if people are tagged indicating a real Facebook relationship with others.
Lastly, Kurt the Cyber guy says that if you think you are a victim, or there is a predator attempting to lure you in. contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, for more information.
Take This Very Serious
OurTime.com Offers valuable tips for those ready to meet offline.
They point out that even in the excitement of the moment, take time to be cautious.
Here are the guidelines they suggest:
- Always meet in public. First time meeting should always be where others are present.
- Tell a friend. Make certain someone know what your doing and where your going.
- Stay sober. do nothing that will impair your judgement.
- Drive yourself to and from the meeting. Use a taxi if you must.
- Be certain to have your cell phone with you.
Reputable online dating sites have safe dating tips. Be sure you diligent in following all advice intended to keep you safe from online predators.
Romeo And Juliet Online Romance Scam Artists Are Real.
Be watchful for signs that you may be in the sights of a predator. If you’re interested in online dating, follow the recommendations here and be wary.
Do you know others who are using or are interested in online dating? It would be a good thing to share this information with them. Remember, the FBI thinks online romance scam artists are so prevalent, they have a task force to stop them.
Questions or comments, leave them in the comments section here. I read them all.