There are dozens of dating sites out there and most are pretty reputable, but what you have to watch out for is the type of people you meet on the sites. Match.com or eHarmony.com and even Facebook are sites to help people make a love connection, but they are also filled with predators who are simply out to get your money and break your heart in the process.
These predators usually target recent widows, widowers and the disabled. The overwhelming number of people are usually older women. However older and disabled men are also targets. Criminal rings, usually in foreign countries, organize to search the net for recent widows or widowers, then post a picture, a profile and commence to “wooing” or sweet talking someone to fall for them.
These people usually pose as, wealthy businessmen, soldiers, missionaries, or just regular Joe’s who act like they are looking for love and companionship. If they wish to attract a man, they post an attractive female or someone they feel the man will fall in love with according to his online profile.
Here are the signs that your online connection may not be the ideal love of your life.
- 1. Don’t speak English: If your online person claims to speak English but has a lot of misspellings or colloquialisms wrong, then he/she is probably in another country.
- 2. Wants money: After two months of online chats, he starts to tell you he needs money. The excuses these people come up with are great. There are three main ones.
- a) He has been mugged and beaten and needs money. He may even have a “doctor” tell you he is messed up and needs the money. This doctor is most likely part of the scam.
- b) His daughter/son or mother dies and needs money for the funeral or someone is deathly ill and they need money to prepare for a funeral or health care expenses.
- c) He is on a trip to come see you and he gets mugged at the airport and wants you to send him money. He’ll write YOU a check, then you can cash it, and send him the money. Most likely the check is from a bogus account or bank.
- 3. Tells you he loves you within a couple of weeks of chatting. This is always a red flag for anyone who is looking for a long lasting relationships. Falling in love online is possible as long as you meet the person face to face somewhere along the way to establish a “real” relationship.
- 4. Keeps postponing trips to see you. If he hasn’t asked for money, but he keeps saying he cannot afford to come see you for some reason or other then he’s waiting for YOU to offer him the cash. He counts on the anticipation of you meeting him, then he draws back at the last minute to keep you from seeing each other.
- 5. Passport: If the scammer sends you a copy of his passport, but looks computerized and the picture looks like a modeling agency took it, most likely it’s not a real passport.
If you feel your online lover is not a scammer and you still wish to send money anyway, consider sending an OCS Trust instead of direct Western Union or MoneyGram or PayPal. OCS Trusts are routed from Western Union through the U.S. Department of State; the funds are then deposited directly with the nearest U.S. embassy and consulate overseas for pick up by your loved one. Please call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 to verify the person’s citizenship BEFORE sending money. If the individual is not really a U.S. citizen, they cannot process the request and it may take up to one year for funds to be returned to you (minus the $30 processing fee). But at least the money will be returned. For more information visit The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs (www.travel.state.gov)