You have come out of a relationship and or have been single for a while and sick of the clubs, so you try your hand at online dating. Months of online dating does not seem to be paying off. You are searching through hundreds of profiles a night, and everyone’s either shallow, not good looking or just not to your standard. You finally come across this one profile and take the plunge and contact them, you then think your luck is turning around when you get another message / email from a beautiful woman claiming to be from America. She is gorgeous in her pictures and seems really into you! Alternatively, maybe you are a female and you just connected with the man of your dreams, who is working in a good job, is grounded and appears to be financially stable and or he is in the armed forces serving somewhere overseas.

After a few emails, you begin to fall madly in love, you can’t wait to hear from them, and are thrilled to hear that they reciprocate, calling you (after 2 to 3 months) “the love of their life”, “my bae” or “my hunnyboo”; but when it comes time for you to meet, they tell you they need money. Maybe they cannot afford a plane ticket or they say they are sick and needs medicine; maybe they lost their wallet in a foreign city or maybe they had their house broken into or their bag was misplaced in a taxi or at an airport.

Whatever his or her reasons, it seems like a small price to pay for “true love”……………

THAT IS if the love was in fact “real” or “true”.

This is in no way what you thought you would be doing, but your heart is pounding as you are so in love with their beauty [from their appearance in a picture or several pictures], soft sensual voice [when you speak to them on the phone] and their kind and loving words, that you would do ANYTHING to help them, to rescue them, to make them HAPPY, to be with them!!!

Sound familiar??!!

With the dawn of the Internet came promises galore – easy communication, online shopping, online education, breaking of geographical barriers and time zones – but alas! It brought with it online scams, fraud, identity theft, creating websites that trapped innocent individuals in many ways and so much more…………………

Now online romance scams have been doing the rounds for quite a while now and as they work in a way that invites trust, many an individual has come to grief as scammers exploit vulnerable people looking for romantic partners through dating apps, social media or most commonly dating websites.

On registering with an Internet-based dating agency, people will search and read 100’s of profiles and evidently will come across others who profess an interest in them. The unfortunate thing is you have no idea who this person is nor who you may have thought it was; she may not even be a woman, but a guy in Nigeria who sounds like a woman or is making a Nigerian woman [an accomplice] talk to you.

Please do not feel bad or embarrassed!! As tens of thousands of men and even women have fallen victim to this type of scam, as will tens of thousands more will!!!

Despite the numerous legitimate dating websites operating around the world, there are just as many if not more dating and romance scams as well. Unfortunately dating, online and romance scams try to lower your defenses, by appealing to your romantic, emotional and compassionate side.

The scammer may try to draw you in by continuing to send you vague sounding emails filled with talk of love, desires and outline how blessed they are to have found you. The scammer may also send emails containing details of their home town / country, about their family and work place, though in a way, they say enough but not too much for you to be able to get suspicious about anything and possibly what they have told you is a complete lie. Maybe “your true love” has claimed to be very sick or has a family who is very sick or worse still they are in hospital. This will usually happen after they have sent you several emails / messages, possibly after a few phone calls, and even maybe after sharing several glamorous photos; you will then be asked (directly or more subtly) to send them money to help their situation; some scammers will even try to arrange to meet with you, in the hope that you give them presents or money or even send money to pay for their air fare / plane ticket.

In other cases, scammers will try to build a friendship with you, perhaps even send you flowers or small gifts. After a period of time has passed, and they have built a relationship with you, the scammer may tell you about a large amount of money they need to transfer out of their country, or that they want to share with you. They may then ask for your banking details or ask you for money for an administration or legal fees or tax that they claim needs to be paid to allow the money to be sent. In some circumstances these scammers may even resort to blackmail and attempt to cash in on their so called romance using any weakness or vulnerabilities to their advantage. This is usually the case where you may have revealed too much personal and or sensitive information either about yourself, your family or your business dealings.

By the time you have finally realized that you have been scammed, the impact is terrible and can have massive financial implications. You may have been a victim of online romance but you find yourself all alone and begin to withdraw yourself from friends, family and at times do not go to work. In some circumstances the shame and embarrassment is so much that victims even contemplate suicide or fall into a deep depressive state, as their confidence has taken a complete beating as has their trust of anyone let alone the dreadful thoughts of losing either their life savings or knowing that they are now in massive amounts of debt.

This is not to say that every profile on the Internet is a fake, you just have to be wary about online relationships, as scammers have no hesitation about exploiting your weaknesses. They do not care about you; for them it’s all about how much money they can get and they don’t care if they ruin your life.

If you are about to join an online dating site or you are already actively communicating on a dating site or several dating sites, you need to exercise caution and understand a number of signs so that you do not get caught out by a scammer.

Don’t let online romance scams get the better of you and seek help if you feel that you and or aq friend or family member may be getting scammed.

In PART 2, we will outline a recent case we worked on regarding a scammer and provide some tips and tricks that may help you in assessing whether you are chatting with a scammer or not.

Meanwhile view the videos below and please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help and / or assistance. All communications are private and confidential.

Cyberlutions® [Online Forensic Investigative Specialists] – Ph: 1800 889 713  – Web: www.cyberlutions.com.au