Most Common Online Scams

I came across an interesting article recently on CBC Canada. It was raising awareness about a widespread internet based scam. As online dating sites have grown in recent years, so have the scammers who use them to find new victims. Fraudsters, posing as a singles, are signing up to these websites and pretending to be looking for love. All they are really looking for is your money.

Be alert!

Scammers use fake identities and establish online profiles. They target men and women who are looking to meet a new partner, matching many of their potential victim’s profile likes and preferences. They start to write back and forth with possible partners to establish a relationship in order to gain their trust. In reality, they are setting the stage to ask for a loan or some cash, taking advantage of their new partner and defrauding them of their money.

According to the Canadian anti-fraud centre, online dating fraud led to a loss of $17 million dollars in 2012 alone. Many of these scams are the work of organized crime. These frauds originate from all over the world, making it hard to catch and prosecute the criminals involved.
It’s important to raise awareness of this problem. Informing yourself of potential scams is the first step to keeping yourself, and your money, safe.

It’s easy to believe it won’t happen to you and get caught up in the moment. Remember, those posing as your perfect match online are professionals. He or she scams people on dating sites for a living.

In order to protect yourself, here are a few key tips:

  • Google small sections of the messages you receive to see if they also appear elsewhere online
  • Do an image search to see if the person’s picture is fake, taken from another site
  • Once you know a potential partner’s name, complete a Google and Facebook check to see what comes up. Make sure he or she is who they say they are
  • Don’t give away personal information. Keep your address, phone number and other details private when you first connect
  • Meet in a public place. If they refuse to meet in person or always seem to get caught up and have to cancel, it’s most likely not legitimate
  • Don’t let alcohol impair your judgement. When meeting an online connection, stay alert. Don’t give someone access to your money because you’ve had one too many glasses of wine
  • Keep it local. It’s much easier for a scammer to claim he’s out of town on business, making it difficult to meet up with you
  • Be wary of hardship stories. They may be setting the stage for a future need for money

I do think it’s important to remember not everyone online is out to scam you. Using a reputable dating site is important, as they have tools and procedures to help protect their users. for example has a series of dating safety articles and online safety tips. They caution users to never give out personal information and offer “member-to-member technology” in order to keep identities safe. They also ask users to report any suspicious activity, including requests for money, fraudulent profiles or married people using the service.